Everybody knows certain foods have gender. Quiche = female. Chili = male. I like both, so I guess that makes me bisexual, or maybe just fat. But if food gender falls on a spectrum, I’d put ribs way over on the male side, even more macho than chili.

I’m not a huge ribs fan. They’re too Fred Flintstone for me, and require more work than escargot — and that’s just in the eating, with the gnawing and copious napkins and all the rest of it. And the sauce overwhelms everything; it seems you could get the same effect by dipping white bread into Open Pit and dabbing a little around your face and clothing. It seemed like Chinese food — not worth the effort to make at home, and best left to restaurants.

In my weekly trips to the Eastern Market I usually make a stop at Gratiot Central, aka the Meat Mall, and there’s a pork place there that always has acres of ribs piled up for Saturday sales. They look good, and there’s never a shortage of portly black dudes standing in line to stock up. I always feel I’m passing up something I should be finding a way to enjoy. (Note: I never feel that way in front of the tripe, hog maws, tongue and other offal cuts.)

Alan, like most guys, likes ribs, and in my effort to spice up the dinner table during grilling season I went looking for a decent recipe for the things that we could make at home and would please both of us. Ladies and gentlemen, I found it. No boiling is required, no sauce is involved, and only middle-school-level grill skilz. There’s a spice rub, and a three-hour turn on indirect heat from a very cool fire (300 degrees, tops), a little action with the hickory chips and several cooking variations to make ’em Chinese-style, etc.

It’s in Mark Bittman’s “How to Cook Everything,” but you can find the recipe here (scroll down — it’s toward the bottom), called Chris Schlesinger’s Slow-Grilled Ribs. In that linked story, Bittman writes, “These are ribs the way they should be, but you need a day off with an empty schedule to make them.” Not exactly. Three hours will do. I started mine at 4 and took them off the grill at 7, and they were fine. Gas grills make it easier, too.

I made them with the first potato salad of the season. And even I liked them.

Speaking of white bread and rib sauce: There are chains that cater to white suburban rib-eaters (Damon’s comes to mind), but I learned to enjoy sloppy ribs after closing time, at black-owned places in dodgy neighborhoods, dragged there by various rib-loving men in my life. They always served their ribs in styrofoam boxes, with a big stack of the whitest white bread available, the kind that makes Wonder look like a health food. That, the baked beans and the greens were always my favorite part of the meal. At least, as I remember those blurry late-night suppers.

(Obligatory boring story: I once attended a party where the barbecue cooks were “secret” lovers, in the sense that everyone knew, only we were supposed to pretend we didn’t. The night before the party someone said, “Where are Name Redacted and other Name Redacted?” and someone else said, “They went off to rub the meat,” because that was, indeed, where they said they were going. There was a pause, then uproarious laughter.)


Roy Edroso’s clip-n-save guide to the right-wing blogosphere, in the Village Voice.

Can any of you observant Cat’licks out there tell me if there’s a particular reason the Bush women dressed like crows to meet the pope yesterday?


Black is fine and slimming and all, but you’d think Jenna might have chosen something a bit more suited to a lovely April afternoon. And where was NotJenna? Do only betrothed young presidential daughters get to greet the pope?

These guys accented with a hint of color:


Now that’s more like it.

Got your Passover Coke yet? You’re probably out of luck — it sells out fast, and to gentiles.

Me, I have to get to work enjoying another fabulous spring day.

Posted at 9:53 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' |

34 responses to “Bonehead.”

  1. Mindy said on April 16, 2008 at 10:27 am

    No, I don’t have the Real Thing yet. But would love some. Relatives living in Mexico brought back a bottle for me last year or so, and I remembered why I used to love the stuff. Good thing it isn’t readily available or else I’d have a lot more than thirty extra pounds to wish away.


    One of the few things I miss about living in Florida is the barbecue joints. Fat Boys in Titusville had the most incredible beans; so good that everything else on the menu was almost an afterthought. A chain place called Woody’s offered a sandwich called a Sloppy Woody, probably a result of rubbing the meat.

    610 chars

  2. nancy said on April 16, 2008 at 10:31 am

    I am very very very fond of pulled pork, another obscene-sounding barbecue variation, where someone else does the work of removing the meat from the bone. I loves me a pulled-port sammich served Memphis-style, with the slaw on top of the meat. Mmm, I’ll rub that.

    263 chars

  3. brian stouder said on April 16, 2008 at 10:31 am

    speaking of gender-biased food, have you noticed the almost sickening fast-food commercials – aimed at teenaged and 20-something single males? (might be Hardees) – they show grotesquely large, drippy burgers – and have a growly male voice-over, saying something about how good it would feel to shove one of these things into your mouth….

    clearly NOT aimed at 47 year old men on lunchbreak, nor their daughters

    414 chars

  4. Jolene said on April 16, 2008 at 10:33 am

    Funny that you linked to Roy’s guide, Nance. I happened across it last night and thought of writing to you about it, as it seemed like just the sort of thing you’d like. My favorite feature: the stupidity/evil ratio.

    NotJenna, I believe, lives in New York, whereas Jenna is living w/ Mom and Dad while planning her wedding, which explains why she was available for a drive to the airport.

    403 chars

  5. Dorothy said on April 16, 2008 at 10:43 am

    Maybe NotJenna is furiously working on the wedding favors, since the Big Event is reportedly on May 10th.

    Actually the ladies should have had veils on, according to the info I got when I Googled “etiquette for meeting the Pope.” But definitely no gloves. Not sure why they went for the all-black ensembles. It looked way too funereal for my tastes.

    The only ribs I’ll eat are the very lean boneless variety. Pulled pork is my fave way to eat barbecue.

    462 chars

  6. Connie said on April 16, 2008 at 10:43 am

    I must disagree. Chinese food is well worth making at home. My fave is double cooked pork in spicy bean paste. Second fave is hoisin chicken lettuce wraps. You need to have access to a Chinese grocery, and you can’t go wrong with the cookbook, “The Frugal gourmet cooks three ancient cuisines : China, Greece, and Rome.”

    What drives me crazy about Chinese cooking at home is that so much happens in a rush at the end of the process. I am one of those clean up as you go along people, and I find it hard to leave the mess behind and sit down and eat. But I manage to do it.

    I love ribs in any way shape or form. My mother had a spareribs recipe that involved simmering them in her electric skillet. For years she told her children that we didn’t like ribs, and made a special hotdog dinner for us to eat while Mom and Dad ate their ribs.

    The Damon’ss in South Bend and Kokomo are gone. Is Damon’s still around elsewhere?

    939 chars

  7. Jen said on April 16, 2008 at 10:55 am

    Mmm, that ribs recipe made me hungry! I agree that ribs are difficult to eat, and I don’t eat them much, but that recipe sounded like all the great things about ribs (meaty, spicy) without the annoying things (mess!).

    “Everybody knows certain foods have gender. Quiche = female. Chili = male. I like both, so I guess that makes me bisexual, or maybe just fat.”

    That was about the funniest thing I read all day, until I read “These guys accented with a hint of color:” over the picture of the priests/cardinals/bishops/generic Catholic dudes. Genius. Thanks for making me smile this morning!

    597 chars

  8. colleen said on April 16, 2008 at 11:07 am

    Dillsboro Smokehouse, Dillsboro NC. Heaven.

    I actually like the ribs at Logan’s Roadhouse. Always tender, not oversauced.

    126 chars

  9. Connie said on April 16, 2008 at 11:19 am

    Hillbilly Heaven, several locations around or near Charlotte, NC. I nursed that take home bottle of sauce for months. Ummm.

    125 chars

  10. moe99 said on April 16, 2008 at 11:35 am

    RE the garb to greet the pope. As someone who was raised Catholic but left the church in 1991, I would bet that the Bush women thought that wearing black was a formal way of showing respect and besides, they probably thought to themselves: isn’t that the color the nuns wear?

    276 chars

  11. John said on April 16, 2008 at 11:41 am

    My wife’s family swears by Stamey’s in Greensboro. It’s pretty good, but I don’t think it is the best I’ve had. I’ve pulled over to some road stands in Virginia and North Carolina that were fabulous, but you didn’t want to check the Health Department rating too closely.

    272 chars

  12. jcburns said on April 16, 2008 at 12:18 pm

    I highly recommend Sammy’s Five Spice Ribs as well as her Country Rib variant. Good, messy eatin’.

    260 chars

  13. MichaelG said on April 16, 2008 at 12:23 pm

    Rev. Jenkins’ ribs in Berkeley used to be great. Part of the fun was watching the counterman whack ’em apart with a huge cleaver. Wonder if they’re still there. Also Leon’s in San Francisco. The place caught fire once when I was there. Nobody left or even missed a bite and the grill guy managed to somehow put it out with a garden hose. Can’t imagine that happening today. I’ve been to Arthur Bryant’s in KC and couldn’t see that it was any better than Jenkins’ or Leon’s. Wonder if any of them are still there.

    520 chars

  14. Kirk said on April 16, 2008 at 12:37 pm

    Damon’s still going strong in Columbus, where it was born. The ribs there probably don’t suit some purists, but I’ve always found them quite tasty. City Barbeque is putting out some fine pulled pork and brisket (with excellent sides of greens, beans and cornbread) in Columbus these days.

    Cooking and eating ribs are well worth the trouble. I steam them in the oven before finishing them on the grill. Since eating the ribs at a place in Damascus, Va., I’ve added a heaping tablespoon or two of apple butter to my standard ketchup/vinegar/etc. sauce.

    Food that’s not worth all the trouble: crab legs.

    Overrated ribs, etc.: Montgomery Inn, Cincinnati

    658 chars

  15. Harl Delos said on April 16, 2008 at 12:46 pm

    It’s interesting that you mentioned barbecue, Nance, because I just got back from WalMart. I don’t shop there often, but they have packer’s brisket in cryovac bag, $1.87 a pound. They also had some smoked pork butt this morning. I got both.

    The brisket? Cut it open, and wrap it three times around with heavy duty aluminum foil. You’ll want the w-i-d-e roll of aluminum foil. Crimp both ends of the foil, and seal the open seam, plop it in a roasting pan (if you don’t have one big enough, get a disposable foil one) and plop it in the oven at 250F about 8 in the morning. About 4 in the afternoon, remove the meat from the aluminum foil. It’ll be drowning in its own juices. Put it back in the oven, and goose the temperature up to about 400F. Toss some big russet potatoes in the oven as well (probably ought to wash them first), on the bare racks. Wait another two hours, and pull everything from the oven.

    At this point, the meat will be falling-apart tender, and so delicious, you’ll pee yourself. I like to put it on a hoagie roll from the Italian bakery down the street, add some of the juice from the pan, and season with salt and pepper. Sometimes, I add some ball park mustard. I must warn you: make sure you’ve been taking your birth control pills before you serve something like this to your husband.

    There’s a lot of shrinkage; packer brisket is fairly fatty. Still, at $1.87, it’s still very cheap meat. And you’ve got enough to feed an average family for a week, or my wife and myself for two days.

    For pork, it’s the same idea: low and slow. Mario Batali has a wonderful recipe that Esquire published last year, but we cheat and leave out all the fancy stuff, and just cook an unseasoned bone-in pork butt forever at a low temperature, and it’s wonderful enough that our neighbors come knocking on our door, returning tools, hoping to be invited in for a taste. As I said, I got a smoked piece of pork at WalMart this morning, but I usually get boneless pork butt at Costco.

    A note: feed prices are high right now, and corn plantings are low, because fertilizer is so expensive, so feed prices are expected to stay high. Right now, farmers are sending their cattle to market, so prices of beef are down, but they’re really going to skyrocket later this year. If you have a deep freeze, fill it with beef, and if you don’t have a deep freeze, you will be able to pay for it before the end of the year if you buy one and fill it with beef now.

    thought that wearing black was a formal way of showing respect

    If the pope were dead, yes, it would be.

    You need to have access to a Chinese grocery

    And you need to be able to read chinese ideographs. I’ve been going to one about once a month for a year now, and bringing home a few things to try. Some are wonderful, and some are exceedingly perplexing. I’m disinclined to buy any Frugal Gourmet books; I don’t want to help him afford to buy any more little boys. In any case, a cookbook written in english is NOT particularly helpful if the ingredients aren’t labeled in english. The people working at the grocery are barely able to speak enough English to run the checkout. I just hand them the Visa card, and hope for the best.

    Last time I went, I got some black rice, and it’s incredibly short-grained. I know that short-grained rice is used for sticky rice, but I’ve never seen the black stuff mentioned in cookbooks. We’re going to try it one of these nights, but we’re a little apprehensive right now.

    It helps to have a sense of humor and a sense of adventure. The folks at one of the local vietnamese restaurants are very friendly, and we sometimes ask them questions; they always laugh, but that’s OK, we know we’re stupid. Then then tell us how to use the ingredient.

    3888 chars

  16. alex said on April 16, 2008 at 12:53 pm

    The Twin Anchors in Chicago. Usually a two-hour wait for a table on any given weeknight, that’s how good it is. And I’ve been known to down those little pitchers of extra barbecue sauce as if they were glasses of water. The place started out as a prohibition speakeasy and became a Chicago institution.

    Not to kill anyone’s appetite, but Nance, remember the rib place in the Fort that got busted for dognapping?

    414 chars

  17. nancy said on April 16, 2008 at 12:57 pm

    Not to kill anyone’s appetite, but Nance, remember the rib place in the Fort that got busted for dognapping?

    Um, no. Do I want to? Please tell me it wasn’t Griffin’s on Lafayette.

    191 chars

  18. Connie said on April 16, 2008 at 1:05 pm

    Harl, the frugal gourmet died a few years ago, so no worries about contributing to his foibles. And check the dang book out from your local library. That’s what I do. Of course since I work there I never have to make a special trip.

    235 chars

  19. beb said on April 16, 2008 at 1:11 pm

    The Boneyard on Telegraph in Livonia has always been my favorite ribs place. Spicy but not hot, baked in and not dripping like some watery sauce. With cottage fries to catch the dripping and Texas toast for when your mouth gets a little too hot. Their “Ribs for Two”…what a date.

    As born-again Christians I guess Laura and Jenna are trying not that nice, upcoming Burqa look.

    The nice thing about the Dali Lama is that he’s never had to cover up rampant pederast in his church.

    485 chars

  20. MichaelG said on April 16, 2008 at 1:23 pm

    My erstwhile wife used to do pork butt in cherry coke. On top of the stove for hours and hours. I laughed my ass off when I first saw her boiling pork in cherry coke. Until I tasted it. She got the recipe from a guy who runs a Mexican restaurant. It’s sublime in tacos.

    274 chars

  21. alex said on April 16, 2008 at 1:38 pm

    It was a place on Pontiac as I recall. Happened in the ’80s and got quite a bit of press at the time. Sure you don’t remember?

    126 chars

  22. derwood said on April 16, 2008 at 1:46 pm

    My parents always took us to the rib place that was on the edge of Gateway Plaza in the Fort. Don’t remember the name. Does anyone still go to the Rib Room on State?

    166 chars

  23. Dorothy said on April 16, 2008 at 1:48 pm

    Kirk I have to agree with you about City Barbecue. We had the pulled pork there about 3 weeks ago with our son, and it really made me miss Henry’s back in Greenville, SC. I also agree about the overrated Montgomery Inn. The prices do not justify the meals for sure. We wondered what all the fuss was about when we moved to Cincinnati in 2002. Huge let down after all the praise people around us heaped on it.

    413 chars

  24. Hattie said on April 16, 2008 at 2:32 pm

    Damn. All this dressing in black. Maybe they thought they were going to a wake.

    79 chars

  25. alex said on April 16, 2008 at 3:24 pm

    derwood, I go to the Rib Room on State every once in a great while, but it’s just not as good as I remembered it. Or maybe I just got accustomed to better in all those years living away from the Fort. The last few times there, it seemed like it wasn’t very busy and the food was pretty unremarkable.

    One place that surprised me was Henry’s on Main. When I left Fort Wayne in the ’80s, the food was so atrocious I swore I’d never eat there again. Evidently they cleaned up their act. Today they’re one of my faves.

    517 chars

  26. Cathy D. said on April 16, 2008 at 3:30 pm

    NPR had a nice bit about papal etiquette, and it doesn’t mention veils:

    134 chars

  27. colleen said on April 16, 2008 at 3:37 pm

    Derwood, i think that’s the gateview inn. Now closed, but the sign says “temporarily”. But it’s been temporarily closed for a LOOOONG time.

    In FW, I used to love Oley’s ribs. Dunno if they still do them. And yes. I would sop up the sauce with bread. YUM.

    263 chars

  28. Kirk said on April 16, 2008 at 3:53 pm

    All this talk convinces me that the first racks of the season will be hitting the grill this Saturday night.

    108 chars

  29. Harl Delos said on April 16, 2008 at 4:01 pm

    Does anyone still go to the Rib Room on State?

    I used to go to Nick & Von’s back in the 1980s. Maury Tauschlog told me about them, said they had the best steaks in the city, and not bad prices. He was right. And what surprised me was how many “movers and shakers” I’d see at the other tables. The other places in Fort Wayne I miss most are the Acme for grilled veal tenderloin, and the Factory for greek salad. I’ve had lots of greek salad since, and I can only conclude that Don Hall’s recipe is the least authentic in the world, because nobody comes anywhere close to it, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t really good.

    Damon’s still going strong in Columbus, where it was born. The ribs there probably don’t suit some purists, but I’ve always found them quite tasty.

    They’re pretty much run-of-the-mill ribs, with a sauce sorta like Kraft barbecue sauce. Like you say, quite tasty. Ruby Tuesday has a very similar kind of ribs, plus a new offering that’s a dry rub instead of goopy sauce. Also tasty.

    What I like at Damon’s is their fried onions. It’s like they fill a small fry basket with onion rings, and fry it, and they serve it as one big brick of onion ring, plus a sauce like the “blooming onion” that the other steak places have.

    City Barbeque is putting out some fine pulled pork and brisket (with excellent sides of greens, beans and cornbread) in Columbus these days.

    There used to be a “Red Hot and Blue” in Upper Arlington, good food, but they only lasted a year or two. Afterwards, there was a ribs joint that opened up on Dublin-Granville Road near Linville Road (as best I remember) that was doing a lot of business, and deservedly so. I can’t remember their name. When I do a google on City Barbecue, Columbus, the map has 8 or 10 restaurants showing up, so they must be good.

    Food that’s not worth all the trouble: crab legs.

    We’re inland, but close enough to Maryland that most restaurants offer crab cakes. Everybody seems mad for them, and I can’t see why. My late first wife went ga-ga over those “sea legs” crab surimi sticks, and salad made from them, and it’s not bad, but surimi is actually mostly pollock, not crab, not that you can taste the pollock.

    We buy a lot of our food at distressed-merchandise groceries; we kiddingly call them “used foods” stores. They sell overstocks, close-dated foods, freight-damaged stuff, whatever the warehouse is selling cheap to get rid of. We got some frozen salmon at one for $4 a pound, a month ago. Boy, was it good. This week, I bought frozen haddock for $1.29 a pound, and it was good too, but obviously not the same. And the regular grocery wants $9 a pound for frozen salmon. I think I’ll pass until the used grocery store gets its hands on more salmon.

    Overrated ribs, etc.: Montgomery Inn, Cincinnati

    I lived in Cinti in the late 1970s, and I thought they were overrated then. But then, I thought most of the places in Mount Adams were overrated, too. I suppose it depends on whether you are dining out for the atmosphere, or for the food. I’d rather have ribs from a tent on a street corner where they cook outdoors, and are only there on Friday and Saturday, than in a ritzy restaurant with cloth napkins and tablecloths. The food is usually a whole lot better.

    Sometimes it depends on when you go. There used to be a place in Norwood, name was something like “Dockside 6”. On Sunday morning, they had a wonderful brunch. I tried going there on a weekday evening, though, and they combined high prices with mediocre food and slow service.

    3629 chars

  30. Kirk said on April 16, 2008 at 4:29 pm

    Harl, we never made it to Red, Hot and Blue. Don’t know of a Linville Road around here; maybe Linworth, though I don’t recall a ribs place up there.

    There used to be a place in a converted gas station on the East Side, near Leonard Avenue, I think, called Crook’s Barbecue. Mr. Crook had ribs, chicken and the usual stuff, but his specialty was pulled pork shoulder, which was absolutely delicious. He opened on Thursday and stayed open on Friday until the shoulder ran out. The place wasn’t in the greatest neighborhood; you handed your money up to an anti-holdup window about 7 feet off the ground, and they handed the food down to you. There was one table, and two giant portraits were on the wall: JFK and MLK. The pulled shoulder was served on a bun with coleslaw. Mr. Crook called it the Linworth sandwich, and Downtown people streamed over there every week to grab some for lunch. Man, I miss that.

    908 chars

  31. Suzi said on April 16, 2008 at 6:42 pm

    Fort Wayne — Good ribs and other chow at the Redwood on Main, too.

    67 chars

  32. Harl Delos said on April 16, 2008 at 8:56 pm

    Don’t know of a Linville Road around here; maybe Linworth, though I don’t recall a ribs place up there.

    My bad. The community of Linworth, at the intersection of Granville-Dublin Road and Linworth Avenue.

    I left Columbus in 1994 or 1995. I worked at CompuServe, initially in Upper Arlington, then at Tuttle Crossing, and I lived off Smoky Row where it crosses 270, while my girlfriend was off Sawmill near Hard Road. I didn’t get to the eastern side of Columbus very often.

    I’m glad Crook was his name, not his occupation….

    If you have good barbecue, you can get away with things like a window 7 feet off the ground. Can you imagine a burger joint trying to pull that kind of stunt? But everybody knows how to cook a burger, and good barbecue, most people don’t know how, and the ones that do often consider it too much bother.

    855 chars

  33. Linda said on April 17, 2008 at 7:16 am

    For awhile, I lived in Memphis, which is bbq heaven. You could smell good bbq just walking around the neighborhood. As for your take on bbq in dodgy neighborhoods, with white bread that made Wonder Bread look like health food…takes me back to Young’s Barbeque in Detroit. There was one on Mt Elliot near the Boulevard, close to my house, and the sauce, soaking in aforementioned white bread, was to die for.

    412 chars

  34. LA Mary said on April 18, 2008 at 9:31 am

    Is that not-Jenna behind her mom’s head? I see the top of a brunette head there.

    80 chars