Tag Archives: Haiti

BBQ Chronicles: Smithfield’s Chicken ‘N Bar-B-Q–Fayetteville, NC

Last week I endured a marathon road trip to Portsmouth, VA and back to Shreveport in four days. It was somewhere on the order of 2500 miles. I went to assist a friend transport a mobile kitchen for Mercy Chefs. We only slept 3-4 hours a day so that we could cover these miles. As a result, we had our share of truck stop food.

On December 4, we decided that we needed to enjoy some fine BBQ, not once, but twice. Our first stop was at Smithfield’s Chicken ‘N Bar-B-Q in Fayetteville, NC. That evening we were passing through Birmingham, AL and had to make a stop at Dreamland BBQ.

Simple presentation.  Big flavor.
Simple presentation. Big flavor.

Everyone knows that I’m a BBQ junkie. I take my fifteen year old daughter on Texas road trips to seek out and savor the best BBQ. I was pleased to sample some Carolina BBQ. I’ve heard about it and my chef buddy I was accompanying actually made Carolina BBQ on a deployment in Chambrun, Haiti. It was delicious then and I expected nothing short of perfection in North Carolina.

You may think a pulled pork sandwich is just a pulled pork sandwich. If you blindly accept that error as truth, then you live an empty life. I don’t want to sound mean, but the sweet pork tangified with the right amount of vinegar elevates this humble sandwich to something epic.

I was skeptical of the slaw on the sandwich as I really don’t like slaw. There is something unappetizing about shredded cabbage coated with a runny mayo. This slaw wasn’t runny and I had to try the sandwich as it was intended.

I’m not going to say that I became an overnight fan of slaw, but the crunch paired with the soft pork works. The fries were frozen, but were mightily fried and I hungrily scarfed them down.

Extreme closeups make me hungry.
Extreme closeups make me hungry.

My only regret is that I was too full to sample the fried chicken. The week prior, I enjoyed Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken in Little Rock, AR. I suspect that Smithfield’s chicken was insanely good. I’ve never been to a restaurant that sells sacks of fried chicken skin. If they sell chicken cracklings, the chicken itself must be unmatched. Maybe I’ll have the opportunity to pit Gus’s and Smithfield’s against each other one day, but in the meantime, I’d like to see a restaurant at home sell fried chicken skin.

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Mission: Honduras

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In July, Heather and I will fly out to Honduras. This will be our third year in a row. It’s our annual mission trip to share the Gospel with precious children with Ignite Missions. Can we call it a vacation? Perhaps. After all, we are going to the murder capital of the world. That sounds restful.

Our mission leaders go to great lengths to keep us safe. Perhaps a little too safe. I can’t even break away to get some street food. I’ve eaten street food in Haiti where cholera is troublesome. That’s my badge of honor regarding third world eats.

Santiago, the bus driver, will make sure we are safe in our travels. Last year when we left Amapala Island, we were driving up a mountain on a narrow two lane road with no shoulders. At dusk, he passed a big rig in a blind turn on the mountain. Oh, and there was oncoming traffic. It was exciting. I was thrilled at what I saw unfolding while many on the bus closed their eyes and started praying. I genuinely thought that was one of the highlights.

The beauty of the country contrasting with the poverty was hard to reconcile. The Honduran people generally seem hopeful. At least in rural areas. How can Americans where even the poorest are considered wealthy to over 90% of the world be unhappy? Perhaps it’s the stuff that chains us to misery. Maybe plunging into an environment that strips most of the excess is a vacation. Sometimes I even have wifi so I can play Candy Crush.

Post is in response to the IBQ weekly writing challenge.

In the Kitchen

Do you love to dance, sing, write, sculpt, paint, or debate? What’s your favorite way to express yourself, creatively?

(I have to thank the staff at The Daily Post for triggering Madonna’s ‘Express Yourself’ in my brain.  This will confound me for a couple of days just like when ‘If I Could Turn Back Time’ by Cher was unleashed.  Well played, Daily Post.)

 

My favorite way to express myself is through cooking. Who doesn’t like cooking? Apparently a lot of people. My mom was a good cook. I say was as if she is no longer among the living. She is a good cook. I usually get to enjoy her food around Thanksgiving.

Around June, she will ask me what I want to eat. Since we stay three days, there is room for more than turkey. Chicken and dumplings usually hit the list. So do pork chops, egg salad, seafood dip, and whatever else I can get her to make. Still no salmon patties.  I may have to resort to threats.

The short order cooking adventure is always surprising as my mom hates cooking. She despises it. As long as I remember she has always hated cooking. I never watched her cook. I never learned her techniques. This skill is mostly self-taught.

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Black Eyed Peas I made for the Thursday meal at Common Ground Community. The neighborhood along with homeless people from the area come to eat and worship.

I believe I mentioned couch surfing for a couple of years. My friend who lent me his couch was also kind enough to let me watch him cook. I watched. And watched. When I got tired of watching, I watched some more. That’s all I ever did there. I remember I was allowed to stir gravy a couple of times. Woohoo! Actually, I was really jazzed. It took me years to get the gravy just right. It’s simple to make, but it is more art than flour and oil.

Sixteen years later, my fanaticism has only grown stronger.  Yesterday, my wife told me that she lost the three pounds that she gained from my recent cake spree.  She likes my food.  I have friends who take phenomenal pictures who will shoot my food in exchange for a meal.  This would be a bad trade if I made them a pan of Hamburger Helper.

The past two years I have spent volunteering with Mercy Chefs, and now I have finally decided to try my hand at catering. Hence, the name Cater It Forward.  We have a long way to go on, well, everything.  There is a lot more to this business stuff than slinging hash.

Making an income is secondary. The original plan was, and still is, to cater to raise money so I can afford to deploy with Mercy Chefs. The organization is 100% volunteer. This business can help earn gas money, hotel accommodations, airplane tickets, whatever I need so I can serve others through Mercy Chefs.

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Cajun pork loin, rice pilaf, corn and a layered brownie thing. This was one of the meals served in Colorado.

This organization has been to Africa. I went to  with Mercy Chefs. My good chef friend was in the Philippines recently to provide aid.

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On Nehemiah Vision Ministries’ compound just outside Chambrun, Haiti.

Am I starting to sound like a shill? Sorry about that. With all of this cooking, I think of that 80’s drug PSA.  Or was it the nineties.

“I do coke. So I can work longer.  So I can earn more. So I can do more coke.” Cue the sad trombone:  Wah wah wah waaaah. The infinite cocaine loop.

I cook. So I can serve others. So I can do more coke cook. It’s not perfect, but I hope I was able to illustrate my point.

(Featured image was a result of bartering food.  My good friend Josh shot the image).