A Summer BBQ Festival: A Face of America

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June 24, 2018

The summer is finally descending on to our area.  It seems as if the rain has been incessant, soaking my treasured tropical and cactus plants on my deck.  We saw some speckles of sun yesterday and decided to keep our plan to go to a BBQ and Music festival in Washington DC.

We are trying to keep ourselves on mostly a fish and vegetable diet, but we can’t talk about summers in America without mentioning BBQ.  It’s in the fabric of America, this culture of meat grilling in the summer in our backyard, by a lake or in a park.  Every culture in America seems to have its own style of BBQ: Koreans, Chinese, Filipinos, Jamaicans, Indians, Europeans, Brazilians etc…. The spices and taste can be very different.

While marching toward the festival, we saw hundreds of people marching with signs around the Capitol Hill area.  Obviously, there was yet another political march taking place in Washington DC.  The tourists from red tour busses were snapping away photos with their big cameras and cell phones.  I was snapping away photos of signs that I found meaningful.

“Fight Poverty, Not The Poor”

Why fighting the poor? I pondered.  Our society had become so polarized in the last few years it seems as if many good people are divided into two teams now.  What’s truth and what’s a lie?  It is a difficult era for young people to easily differentiate good from evil, well intentioned acts from selfish acts.  It’s the time to reflect upon ourselves and sort out what we believe in.  Do we see the world as a community, or should we care solely for our own survival?  Darwinian behaviors might not always be the most compassionate way to live.  Who is the fittest, and how do we define being “fittest?”  Only in the Washington DC area can we see a gluttonous BBQ festival a block away from a political march focusing on those living in poverty.  Some of the young “activists,” still clutching their signs, were in line for beer and BBQ after the march.  Welcome to America!  In North Korea, these young ones would have been ushered into some dark cars  and never to be seen by their family members.  We should never lose sight of our democracy and free speech.

My husband and I had a great time at the BBQ festival with so many people, so many ethnic groups, so many different kinds of food.  Anthony Bourdain would have loved this crowd, one that represents the true face of America, a blended crowd standing in line together for something they have in common, a love for BBQ food.  Bourdain would have reminded us how all of us are very much the same, how we all gather in groups of friends and families for the food we love.

We watched a Jamaican flag flying against the blue sky, in front of a Jamaican jerk chicken stand, side by side with a flag with Bob Marley’s face and his name.  Bob Marley was a resident of Jamaica.  There were many Asians like me standing in line for the sinful “Loading Fries,” a combination of grilled pulled pork on a bed of French fries, smothered with melted American cheese and chopped scallions.  I guess the vegetarians could have asked for one without pulled pork.  It is so “American” to eat such food.  It might not be the kind of food we should eat if we are concerned about our longevity, but life doesn’t go on forever even if we stop eating loading fries.  One order of loading fries was more than enough to feed me and my husband for two days as part of our main meal.  We eat the “Weight Watchers” way, with everything in small portions.

This evening, CNN will air one of the two last episodes of Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown.  I still have some leftover loading fries from yesterday and will have some in his memory.  It was a good day in Washington DC.  Bourdain would have been glad there are still those of us who, while having gratitude about our safe and prosperous life, do not forget those we need to fight for.  He would have been glad I thanked the young servers, who probably were from the inner city and who stood in the hot sun for 14 hours on each day of the festival to serve the crowd, by giving them generous tips. 

The crowd, Bourdain would have been happy, was not close to being homogenous.  After all, it is the capital of our country America.  America, the country built by brilliant minds from so many different parts of the world, some parts still unknown to most Americans.  Their shared ideas and innovations have made America among the most powerful of countries even when she is among the youngest ones.  Like Bourdain, I am grateful all of us, from different parts of the world, have melted into one blended nation.  Otherwise, the whole BBQ festival would be limited to one block, with the same sauces, same condiments, same meat, same music and same types of people.