Somewhere in Memphis, I had my back to a very large river and my friend said, “Let’s eat some BBQ Spaghetti.” I like my friend. I like his ideas. So I said to myself, Okay Harvey, You’re a tough guy. You’ve been sapped twice, choked, beaten silly with a gun, shot in the arm until you’re crazy as a couple of waltzing mice. Now let’s see you do something really tough—like eating BBQ spaghetti.
Up till then, it had been a film noir type of day. We ordered and suddenly there was color.
Yes, this sauce at The Bar-B-Q Shop amazes me with its mustard, apple, oak, paprika taste which I just want to pour more and more on the pasta, although the chef will not confirm or deny any of my readings of his wonderful concoction. Just one of the many secretive designs in Memphis. What’s clear is that this taste in my mouth isn’t going away any time soon.
My friend and I plot and plan aided by a ceiling light and a table lamp. Meanwhile, it’s getting real in the next room.
The next morning I join my friend at rally supporting immigrants in a nation of immigrants. Strange country.
A fellow protestor sits on top of his shoulders. For all I know, this might be his boss.
That night we’re going out to a mansion somewhere in Memphis. My friend won’t give me any more information, so I decide to dress for elegance and to hide my hands. As I always say, I can afford a blemish on my character, but not on my clothes.
We arrive ready for intrigue.
We meet my friend’s director of clandestine activities and spiritual advisor inside old mansions late at night. Odd guests appear and disappear. Later my friend confessed about his spiritual advisor, I was thinking about that dame upstairs, and the way she had looked at me, and I wanted to see her again, close, without that silly staircase between us.
This mansion in Memphis has many strange rooms.
I need a drink of bourbon.
The next morning I’m up and about in Memphis.
We run into children defying discrimination and segregation through all generations.
I spend my afternoon with toy cars and sipping mezcal, rye, lime, orgeat, tiny bomb and fernet.
My friend shops at Whole Foods. Strange happenings surround us.
At the end of the weekend, with my plane due to depart in a few hours, we walk the streets of Memphis.
My friend and I visit the Lorraine Hotel.
The history of white supremacism in America leaves me unnerved, as it should; nothing new, and yet as always, a reminder how the same racist system dominates the world I’m part of, and I bear a responsibility to respond which this post and others can only begin to attend to; the connection between food and civil rights clearly makes its mark.
My friend drops me off at the airport. I fly a thousand miles then fall asleep and dream of nothingness and a cat.
Yet, I can’t shake loose what’s happened and happening in America, and I can’t shake loose the taste of Memphis BBQ Spaghetti. The two go together. Barbecue begins in the Caribbean and encompasses and includes cultures around the world grilling and smoking in America. I have to make my own.
Rubbed with salt and pepper, paprika and chili powder, caraway seeds, and dark brown sugar–it wait overnight and then, the smoking begins.
I’ll let smoke surround the rubbed pork for about seven hours between 200 and 250 degrees. Now to the sauce and music while i work in the lab. Little Junior’s Blue Flames featuring Pat Hare on guitar. Oh that Memphis Blues sound and Sun Records.
A whole stick of butter which I let turn a golden brown and then add a generous helping of paprika and chili powder.
I add onions, cherry tomatoes, garlic. apple cider vinegar and a healthy pour of molasses.
All stirs, melds and grows dark. Time for the smoked pork.
Black with red rivulets and smelling of deep, dark woods where delicious secrets await. Time to pull.
The secret has been revealed–a tender, fatty world of pig and apple wood. Time to put it all together.
I mix the smoked bork and sauce together, and let simmer in happiness as I boil water, cook the fettuccine, then with more butter of course, mix all together. Oh yes! The tangy, savory, saltiness, with a good amount of smoked wood and umami, with all the pork bits sticking to the noodles. Yes, this is Memphis BBQ Spaghetti/ Fettuccine. Bon Appétit!