Sweet Savor unto the Lord


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Sweet Savor unto the Lord

By Bobby Neal Winters

We live in a culture where it seems we value money above all else. This is so much the case that when we learn someone has a skill our first question is almost always whether they can make money with it. The idea someone would do something for little or no pay, only for the love of it, fits oddly into our minds.

There are those individuals around who do what they do as an offering to God. I’ve known of musicians playing in church, for example, who are disconcerted if they receive applause because they consider their music to be an offering to God. They don’t seek human recognition but merely to do something well in the service of the Lord.

Making offerings is an ancient idea, and if you flip through the book of Leviticus you will learn in great detail how, when, where, and why to make offerings. I suggest you flip quickly or you might discover some of your favorite things are punishable by stoning.

I apologize if this sounds profane, but I’ve yet to read about any of those burned offerings without thinking about barbeque. That might say a lot about my cooking style. However, when you get among barbeque lovers, you learn about real religion. There it is not Protestant or Catholic, Jewish or Gentile, but Kansas City-Style or Southern-Style. Among some of the Southerners, barbequing beef is what’s punished by stoning.

I had been vaguely aware of this before my friend Mike got into smoking. Since then, I’ve absorbed knowledge like from him on this topic like a piece of brisket absorbs smoke. (I’ve not actually learned all that much, but I love phrase.)

Mike gets into things with a zeal few others can manage. When he decides he’s going to do something, he reads, investigates, and takes classes. Before he’s done with it, he’s learned the right way to do something, and then he does that something the right way.

If you doubt what I say, let me tell you this: Mike edges his lawn. Need I say anything more? If that isn’t sufficient to convince you this is a man of true character, I just don’t know what would be.

Mike is a priest of pork, a bishop of brisket, a minister of meat.

By way of contrast, my burnt offerings are truly that. This is because I am the sort of person who when he goes to bed on Friday night has very little idea what he is going to do on Saturday morning. The sun comes up, and the day just sort of takes care of itself. If I happen to have a hankering for a bit of meat with an outdoor flavor to it, I’ll light some charcoal about five in the afternoon, and there will be cooked meat by six-thirty. Likely as not that meat will be reminiscent of some of the newer synthetics they use in construction. People I’ve cooked for have signed affidavits to that effect. In short, I am a heathen.

Mike, with his missionary zeal, shows all the signs of someone who is trying to convert me to his religion and maybe even lure me into the priesthood.
This process of attempted conversion began recently.

The first step was getting the meat. My wife and I did this on the Martin Luther King holiday. We went to a place whose location I won’t reveal for fear of being stoned by my friends in the local chamber of commerce. Suffice it to say that when we emerged from this undisclosed location, we had a huge container of coffee, fifty burnable CDs, and a tub-o-peanut-butter, in addition to four pork butts. Buying pork butts on a cold day is a good way to release your inner comedian. We took our butts to the car, drove them to a restaurant to eat, and froze our butts outside.

The next step in the process was to marinate the meat. Mike uses a marinade of which bourbon whiskey is an integral component. I had bought him a bottle for Christmas with this very purpose in mind. By the way, if you ever want to look at interesting facial expressions, go into a liquor store where they know you are a part-time preacher, and explain to them the half-gallon of bourbon you are buying is for cooking purposes.

“Sure it is. WE understand.”

Before the marinade was applied, Mike made me perforate my butts with a special device that poked hundreds of tiny little holes in them so that they would more readily absorb the liquid. Mike then put my butts in zip lock bags, poured on his magical mixture of bourbon and God-knows-what-else, and left it overnight.

The next day, almost as an anticlimax, the meat was put in the smoker and was left there all day only disturbed occasionally for Mike to mutter his mysterious incantations which sounded something like: “Want a beer, Bob?”
After about eight hours, the meat was done. It was a delight to look at and had a sweet, savory aroma. Upon tasting it, the first reaction was the urge to applaud, but somehow that seemed inappropriate. Better to silently let it dissolve on your tongue.

Those who are able to do things well are a blessing and example to the rest of us, even if they don’t make money at it.