Monday, April 8, 2013

Eating BBQ with the boys!

I'm on the plane headed to Texas so I decided to post this old entry I wrote. Steak is for dinner tonight!


Last year for work I visited two different parts of Texas (Dallas area and West Texas) and Tennessee/Mississippi.  I hadn't really explored the South much before these trips and I came away with a few observations… one of which is that Southern hospitality is alive and well and another is that Southerners LOVE their barbeque. These two statements may seem like, “Duh…” observations to those who have spent more time in the south but were new to me!

I’ve obviously heard about barbeque obsessions and contests and seen many different programs on the Food Network devoted to southern BBQ but it was completely different to experience it for myself.  And completely different to see how barbeque in the South compares to what we call barbeque in the Northeast.

In Texas, I tried three different barbeque restaurants… one in Gainesville, Texas; one in Sweetwater, Texas; and one in Fort Worth, Texas.  Pick-up trucks were in every parking lot.  Salads were nowhere to be found on the menu.  And each meal came with a meat combo and two sides.

 In Texas I tried something different at each restaurant… sliced beef and sliced turkey barbeque, pulled pork barbeque, roast chicken barbeque, sausage barbeque, and of course, ribs. My sides included cole slaw, baked beans, French fries, sweet potato fries, and somewhere along the line I was able to squeeze in a small side salad.

I have to say my favorite was the barbeque I had in Fort Worth – chicken and pulled pork. The sausage in Sweetwater was a close third. Yum!

On my last night in Texas, I went out to dinner with two of the guys on my team. Now this was maybe the fourth or fifth meal I had eaten with them at this point in the trip. One of my colleagues, paid me a “compliment” in the form of saying to me, “You know what’s great about you Katelyn? Most girls when we go out to eat they make us guys feel bad by getting a salad or something like that. But not you, you just dig right in with us!”Hm. Thank you? Haha. I couldn’t help but laugh and cringe a little at my co-workers observation that I can eat like a man. Having a bigger appetite than most people I know is not uncommon to me, but leave it to an engineer to feel the need to point it out ever so politely and wrapped up as a compliment.

Continuing in my “eat like a man” adventures, when I was in Memphis, the local team took us to the barbeque restaurant Rendezvous. Rendezvous is a Memphis staple, with the local beer on tap, a friendly staff, and guns lining the walls. After a sausage and cheese sampler plate, some barbeque pork nachos, and a pitcher of beer or two, we ordered our food. I was having a hard time deciding what to get.

 Being an indecisive ordered is also something not uncommon to me. Usually I’m just overwhelmed by all the delicious sounding options and the ongoing battle in my head, “Healthy or not healthy?”On this particular occasion, the “pork ribs” were the specialty at this restaurant, which everyone was telling me I should try.

 Now, I am not a huge ribs person so I wasn’t really looking forward to eating that, but I also do feel some pressure to try a house specialty. Not being a barbeque connoisseur, I was also curious as to whether if I ordered “pork shoulder” would it come out like the pulled pork I was used to? I also had my co-workers lingering comment in my mind and was wondering if I should go for something like a salad.

After making numerous inquiries to the waiter, he was kind enough to bring me out a small “sampler plate” of some of the menu items. If only every restaurant would do that for me! It was very sweet of him too do, and he seemed to have no problem with it -- until I decided to order something that he hadn’t even included in the sampler. I decided on the chicken barbeque. Which, when I ordered, as if on cue, our waiter, and the guys sitting around me all said, “WHAT?! Come on! Not the ribs??”So, I was peer pressured into getting the ribs and pulled pork.

I guess for that meal I lived up to my reputation of eating like a man. The ribs in Memphis were “dry ribs” meaning that they are barbequed with dry spices and not in a barbeque sauce. They were also pork ribs and not beef ribs, which made them unique. I personally enjoyed the Texas ribs better, but am not really a rib girl in the first place.  The Memphis pulled pork was deeeelish though!

Having done Weight Watchers for a long time now, I know that one of the challenges of eating out all the time is the “peer pressure” you can feel from your friends/dining companions if everyone else at the table is “cheating.” I generally do a good job of staying away from that when I am with friends. However, in the past year, doing lots of work eating and traveling has been more difficult for me. I feel as if I am already seen as “different” from my coworkers as I am young and female and work in a predominantly older, male industry.

One of the ways I have bonded with my coworkers is through dining out and through meals. I need to find the balance between maintaining a healthy lifestyle for myself and “hanging with the boys” – which includes, at times, ribs and beer.

I've got some trips coming up in the next couple weeks and it will definitely be a challenge for me to stay on track with eating and exercising right.  Knowing I've got the half marathon coming up will certainly help keep me on track.  I'm really proud of how I have been doing so far and I have no plans to mess it up now!!

As a side note, I recently saw this article on Texan BBQ and wanted to share in honor of my upcoming track back to Dallas in April.  Enjoy!

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