Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Family Traditions

My extended family wholeheartedly believes in tradition. Do something twice and it's considered a tradition. Easter holds the promise of traditional BBQ Chicken. July 4th...more BBQ. We had to break our long standing Christmas Tradition when our families grew to include new babies. So we started our own. Ham and biscuits for breakfast. White beans and home made chili sauce on christmas eve. Wine beginning early Christmas afternoon. My sister's husband drinking enough to be sweet to me by 6:30.

But the ultimate in tradition in the Roark Family is Thanksgiving. Nearly 30 years ago my aunt Ginger began preparing Thanksgiving dinner for the Roark family after she lost her mom on Thanksgiving day the year before. We are seated at a long table with perfect linens, beautiful china, and shiny silver. Each person has an assigned seat that only is adjusted when someone is born or marries into the family. The food. Oh the food.

We'll start: cold cranberry salad, cornbread dressing with cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and gravy (both giblet and faux giblet), english peas, corn casserole, asparagus casserole, sweet potato casserole both with pecans and with marshmallows, sherried fruit, and, of course, turkey.

Perfection. Ginger and her family work for days on the food, and weeks on the silver. It's one of the most perfect days. After lunch we take turns telling what we are thankful for from the past year.

We are blessed. Hope your Thanksgiving is filled with as much food and love and family as mine will be.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Best of the Best

Imagine: over 100 of the best barbeque teams in North America. Smoke filling up the air. The smell of alligator frying. Some old guy with a microphone hollering: get your peaches and cream corn! fresh off the farm! fresh off the grill! And in the background...the Ubon's team doing what can only be considered a performance art piece. Bohemian Rhapsody.

Ok, so we don't know all the words, but we can improvise guitar solos and piano solos and achieve really loud operatic-esque vocals when pressed.

Truth of the matter is that on Friday we had a really awesome hog. It netted us a 7th place. Out of 7. Friday night when it was time to get hog number 2 rolling in as many days, well, we weren't so thrilled with the process. You see, my friend, Beeve retires from BBQ every single time he doesn't win. Sometimes he retires even when he does win. Beeve retired around 6:00 pm and was forced out of retirement like a pig smoking Brett Farve at 6:15. My dad slapped the hog around a little, threatened it. Gave it the Christopher Walken treatment. We performed Bohemian Rhapsody. By 6:30 that hog was on the grill and smoking. 8:00 and we were headed to the Japanese Steak House in Waycross Ga.

Saturday evening brought us a long awards ceremony. Top 10 apple pies. Top 10 Pecan pies. Top 10 Macaroni and Cheese. Top 10 quail egg based mayonnaise. You get the point, right? The thing is, all of the backyard teams were given their awards. and that crowd left. I wanted to stand up and scream: hey! I listened to your kid play the clarinet you stay and listen to mine! (Sorry, I digress.) After nearly 100 awards, we were finally given a trophy for a 1st place hog.

Excited isn't the word! Worst to First!

I'm sad that Beeve and Blondie, Viv and Allen weren't included in the picture above. But my, ain't that bell pretty!