Chow Town

Baloney, malarkey, hogwash: Blowing smoke in the barbecue contest network

Baloney is made up of the least prized by-products of meat production.

Forget about chops, shoulders, steaks and tenderloins. Think meat trimmings, fat and offal, finely ground into seasoned, preserved and fully cooked sausage extruded into red cellulose or beef lung casings.

Smoked, fried or sandwiched with sweet raw onion and mayo, it’s delicious. Baloney the meat can feed you.

Verbal baloney can entertain you. If someone tells you, “That’s baloney!” they mean you’ve uttered a mish-mash of misinformed malarkey and hogwash.

Many competition barbecue pitmasters are so gifted at dishing out baloney with stories, posturing, putting down their competitors, and bragging about their feats, that it’s hard to discern their baloney from truth.

We call it “blowing smoke.”

Porky Doodle-Que to Bubba: “Glad you showed up to take last place again, Bubba. With you here, Burn My Butts won’t have to worry about getting totally skunked.”

Bubba: “My pleasure, Porky. It’s gonna be fun to watch you eat your words when they call me up for GC!”

Porky: “Fat chance! But if you get Grand Champion, I swear I’ll treat your whole team to a gourmet minnow and night crawler sushi lunch with frosty longnecks on camo-covered picnic tables at Bob’s Bait Shop tomorrow!”

“Game on!” shouts Bubba.

And so goes the banter, off and on all day, all night, and into the morning until time for the first turn-in.

Some will tell you they’re the “Greatest Barbecue Pitmaster that Ever Walked the Earth.” Others let their trophies, ribbons, plaques and long list of awards do their bragging for them.

Gifted smoke blowers can feed you so much baloney that you don’t care if it’s hogwash. You want more.

Listen to some banter between two gifted smoke blowers — Guy Simpson, the KC Rib Doctor, and Billy Bones of Red Keg, Michigan, for example — and you’ll wish they would never stop.

It is delightful good-natured fun that I hope you experience at a barbecue contest near you.

Caveat: a few smoke blowers haven’t perfected the art yet. They actually believe their smoke and are choking on it.

It’s easy to tell the difference from artful smoke blowers and the others. The former will entertain you. The latter will bore you.

Henry Ford, inventor of the charcoal briquet, put it this way: “A bore is a fellow who opens his mouth and puts his feats in it.”

Here’s hoping that the baloney in your life is delicious and entertaining.

Ardie Davis is an iconic figure in the barbecue community. He founded a sauce contest on his backyard patio in 1984 that became the American Royal International Barbecue Sauce, Rub Baste contest. He is a charter member of the Kansas City Barbeque Society and an inductee into the KCBS’s Hall of Flame. He has been interviewed on numerous food shows and writes for a variety of barbecue-related publications. He is also the author of a number of barbecue books, his most recent release “America’s Best BBQ Homestyle: What Champions Cook in Their Own Backyards.”