Judgment Day

Category: By Christian
Ahhhhhhh, the first weekend in October. Quickly becoming a landmark holiday in the Dashiell house. Nothing like one of the biggest bbq competitions in the country being held 4 minutes from your house to put a little pep in your step.

For the second year in a row, I got to judge the American Royal Open Barbecue competition. I hope to judge it for about 4 more years, at which point I hope to earn my way into the invitational at The Royal. But for now, I'll be content to spend a couple hours eating some of the best bbq in the country.

One key difference for my sophomore campaign is that this year I was actually a certified judge. Back in 07 I just signed up and walked in off the street. Still an enjoyable experience, but I felt pretty overwhelmed. There is a lot to keep track of when you are judging bbq. I had to lean pretty heavily on one of the experienced judges at my table, and he was very patient with me.

But this year was way better. Stacy helped me brush up on Saturday by quizzing me from portions of my bbq judge manual that I had underlined. Granted, she mostly was doing so in order to laugh at me and call me a dork, but I appreciated the chance to hone my skills.

I wound up needing that quizzing, as I ended up pulling double duty. Not only did I judge, but I also was appointed Table Captain. I had to retrieve the samples we were to judge, as well as make sure everything ran smoothly at our table. It was challenging. A lot to remember. Fortunately, my 5 fellow judges were patient with me and helped me out quite a bit.

In the end, I think I improved a lot over last year's performance. For one, I paced myself way better. It's pretty easy to get ahead of yourself when 6 portions each of chicken, ribs, pork and beef are put in front of you. Plus, you have to clean your palette between each entry with crackers and water. Last year, I pretty much slipped into a meat coma. I was sweating bbq sauce. It wasn't pretty.

This year, I managed to only go through 2 bottles of water (down from 4), and I didn't feel like I needed anyone to carry me home. Oh, I was full. Really full. But less full than last year.

The other improvement over last year had nothing to do with me. We simply got better meat at our table this year. It was all good, and there was nothing inedible. Man, last year there were 3 or 4 things that were just brutal. Like this chicken thigh that someone had rolled in rock salt. Sick. No automatic spitters this year, though. Thank goodness.

In case you ever have the chance to judge a contest, let me recommend my tried and true recovery method. First, sleep off the meat sweats. Your body needs the rest. Once you wake up, grab some coffee and a small snack. You need the heat and the sweet to help with digestion, and the sugar to get the salty taste out of your mouth. Then, just chill for a while. Preferably while watching football. When dinner time rolls around, just do fruit and water. And about 2 hours before bed, do a bunch of situps and pushups to get the old metabolism flowing again. Plus, if you are goign to eat a couple of pounds of meat, you might as well put the protein to good use.

Renew and Restore

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