Review of Made On American Street
“Hnnnnnnnggggggg…” I moaned, licking each of my fingers before wiping them with a napkin.
Sweet T and I were elbows deep in barbeque sauce. I mean, literally; I had this shit on my elbows. We were acting as celebrity judges for the 9th Annual Made on American Street Barbeque competition presented by the Philadelphia Homebrew Club and Philabundance. It was a cold day, even for October, and we were attempting to warm our butts with hot eats.
“You don’t have to eat the whole sample, you know,” said our table-head, Russ. He sat across from Sweet T and me and the other judges at our table. He was a professional food-competition judge with the Kansas City Barbeque Society – the de facto authority here.
“I… can’t… help it,” I said. I was currently stuffing my face full of pork rib slathered in delicious homemade barbeque sauce.
The judging was simple. All entries were anonymous, so no one at the judging table knew what submissions belonged to which BBQ outfits. We were judging on: appearance (how does the food look, is it presented well, does look appetizing), taste (is it too spicy, too salty, bland, etc.), and texture (how does it chew, is it undercooked, is it too tough).
We were judging the final submission in the “ribs” portion of the competition. Chicken had come first. While judging the chicken, it had seemed like the right idea to eat as much of the food as possible. Free lunch? Fuck yeah.
But after five submissions from the chicken category, and six from the rib category, I was beginning to regret my decision to indulge so gluttonously.
“Ughhhh,” I said, throwing the bone into a paper boat and rubbing my stomach, “I’ve made a swine of myself.”
“If you do this again, you’ll learn that you only need a bite or two to actually judge the food. Otherwise, you’ll make yourself sick!” Russ was marking his final markings on the scoresheet.
“It… was… worth it,” I belched and picked up my pencil, filling out the scoresheet for this final entry.
I tried to treat each scoresheet the same; I was doing my best to answer each question honestly, and judge eat facet sincerely and with thought. Granted, we were told that each piece of food would likely taste like the best piece of barbeque we’d ever had before. Russ warned us our scores might be slightly skewed towards the higher end of the spectrum.
“Okay guys!” Philly Homebrew member, Jessica, has come to collect our sheets. “You guys have maybe ten minutes before we bring out the Sides!”
“I don’t even know if I can eat anymore,” Sweet T said.
“So, if you guys want to take a few minutes to stretch your legs and go grab a beer please feel free to!”
I looked at Sweet T and said “I feel like I’m gunna die,”
“Come on, big boy. Let’s go throw some beer on top of that food baby,”
We got up from the tables and headed into the thick of the festival. The people (who were now rapidly filling the inside of the event’s boundaries) were able to see whose food they had just been eating, and so could make informed judgments about the food being cooked. I was now trying to crane my neck to see who had cooked what entry. I was having a hard time. Instead, I decided to try the beer. There were more than two dozen different types of homebrewed beers lined up along the far side of the block.
I grabbed myself a Pumpkin Breakfast Brown ale, pausing to check out the various beers, merchandise tents, and BBQ stands before moseying back to my seat. Sweet T grabbed the June Bug Rauchbier. We strolled together, taking it all in. The musical stylings of the Wooly Coats were serenading the crowd on the street.
Having acted as celebrity judge for the last two hours, this was my first chance to actually take a look at all the food I had just ingested. Hundreds of people were swarming the nearly-expended wares of two dozen different barbeque outlets fighting each other for the prize. I could no longer stand the sight of food and so headed back to my seat at the judges table, where I was going to be judging even more food.
“Ugghhhhhh” our fellow guest judge, Mike, was groaning like perhaps he was bleeding internally.
“I… don’t want to eat anymore,” Sweet T said.
“I’m so full of food I may throw up,” said our tables other guest judge, Aubrey. She didn’t look like she was kidding.
“Hnnnnngggg… I should have listened to you, Russ,” I said as they laid out the first side dish to be judged.
“I told ya,” Russ said as he handed out what was – apparently – mac and cheese with chunks of lobster.
“Fuck it,” I said, “I’m eating this.”
After two more cups of different styles of mac and cheese, two different types of yam/sweet potato style sides, and one surprisingly tasty collard green dish, I was finally ready to die.
“Commencing… food… coma… blurghhhhaahhhhh,” I said exhaling heavily. I washed the last few bites of food down with a big swig from my commemorative beer glass (provided courtesy of the Philly HBC). It was cold out but this beer (along with the still warm and spicy food in my belly) was really helping to keep me warm. Admittedly, our good friend and site-master, Zero Lives, also came through and brought my sissy-ass a rainbow blanket that was also helping me to stay warm.
“Alright,” Russ said, “judges, put your pencils down! Put your score sheets in order and give ‘em here.”
We handed our sheets to Russ, who in turn gave them to Jessica in order to score them and finalize a winner.
“Guys, thank you so much for helping to judge the event! Now, go forth and mingle! We’ll be announcing winners in a few hours so be sure to stick around!”
“I can barely move,”
“Come on, ya big baby. Let’s go get another couple of beers before we go home,” Sweet T attempted to pull me up by my armpits and lift me out of my chair. She couldn’t.
“You’ll never lift me,” I said.
I struggled to get up from my chair, but succeeded in lifting my bloated body. The prospect of free beer outweighed my body’s insistence that it couldn’t hold in any more food or liquid. I was willing to show my body that when it came to beer as tasty as the Philly Homebrew Club had to offer, there was always room for a little more.
The Bottom Line:
The 9th annual Made on American Street BBQ competition was an overwhelming success. Sweet T and I got our first (but hopefully not last) taste of food-judge power on what wound up being an excellent Sunday afternoon. The food, the beer, the music, and the people were all amazing. I am already getting my stomach ready for upcoming Philly HBC events. Keep your eyes peeled for Sweet T and me as we take place in further gluttonous tomfoolery!