CHEAP EATS Crawdad de la Cooter has a new squeeze. I called him up and said, "Hey, man, let’s go eat, huh? You hungry?"
And he said what anyone would have said in his position. He said, "Who is this?"
"It’s the Chicken Farmer," I said. "Crawdad’s ex?"
We hadn’t met yet, but we knew enough about each other, I reckoned, him being her new squeeze, and I maybe being her best friend. Why we hadn’t met yet didn’t have nothing to do, I don’t think, with him or with me. That’s why I was going over her head, because they’d been seeing each other for months, or at any rate long enough to have already had a falling out and a falling back in.
"It’s up to you," I said. "You can invite Crawdad, or not."
He did. We went to K.C. Barbecue in Berkeley. I had wanted to go to Penny’s Caribbean Café, especially since Crawdad was coming, because then it would have been like a double date. Believe me, no two humans can love each other as head-over-heelingly as I love Penny’s curry goat roti.
Of course I’m fond of barbecue. But I eat barbecue at least once a day at home. I eat barbecue so much that I piss smoke. I eat barbecue so much that I am barbecue. That’s cool, but it ain’t love. It’s like masturbation. When I eat barbecue, my eyes are still going to roll back in my head and my toes are going to curl and all my cells are still going to go, "Yes!" But while all that’s happening, chances are I’m fantasizing about curry goat roti. Penny’s Caribbean Café.
How did I get here?
This is a review of K.C. Barbecue, my new favorite barbecue joint. The straightforward, tomatoey sauce is nothing to write home to Arthur Bryant about, or even across the bay to Cliff about. But that only says that much more in favor of the meat. The ribs are perfectly smoked, Patsy Cline-ing to the touch of your teeth. You don’t even need teeth. Gums will do. I’m not even sure you need gums. The meat might fall to pieces on your tongue and melt into it like butter, or curry goat roti.
Amazingly, for pig meat this tenderly smoked, it doesn’t lose anything in succulence. In fact, K.C.’s ribs may well not even need any sauce — which is about as indicative an indicator of excellent barbecue as there can be. I can’t vouch for the brisket, because they were all out. The new squeeze did toss me a bone of his chicken, and even that had life to it. But you know, barbecue’s hard to get right consistently, nobody knows better than I do, so you gotta have the sauce, just in case.
Oh, that reminds me, before I get too far onto the topic, I did get barbecued eggs down. I’m not saying the invention can’t be improved upon; I’m saying: Pay attention. There’s a window — more like a pinhole — of opportunity, where the white part will have set and the yellow will not yet have turned into a superball. Juicy, smoky, with Spanish rice this time, over a homemade tortilla . . . Huevos dancheros, take two. Three, counting the whole egg I put in the smoker once and forgot about — but not counting the countless ones I’ve cracked open and directly onto (and through) the grill, for the highbrow entertainment of many a dinner guest.
Back to K.C.: The beans were good, the Wonder Bread was white, and they had orange pop.
"So, what did you think?" Crawdad says to me over the phone next morning.
"Well, the beans were good and the Wonder Bread was white," I said. "Sauce not great, but the ribs —”
"You know what I mean," she said.
I did. I didn’t say it like this, but I loved Crawdad’s new squeeze for a lot of reasons, not the least of which was that I love everyone. I mean, we’re all in this together, you know what I mean? And I loved the guy’s favorite barbecue, and I loved his laugh, and you know his heart’s in the right place, or else he wouldn’t be crawdoodlin’ the great Crawdad de la Cooter. Best of all, though: He ain’t like me. If she’d of gone and buddied up with some other bowlegged starving artistical pirate-headed Ping-Pong-playing backyard philosophizing tranny-ass barbecued chicken farmer with a Chevy Sprint pickup truck, that might of maybe been tough. SFBG
Tue.–Thu., 11 a.m.–9 p.m.; Fri.–Sat., 11 a.m.–midnight
2613 San Pablo, Berk.
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