Birthday Barbeque Memories

Grill - medA Stroll Thru the grocery Store...

As I headed off to the local grocery store, I was focused on getting the few things that would make a simple and enjoyable afternoon birthday barbeque. I thought about traditional burgers, considered chicken, and settled on teriyaki pork tenderloin along with a rack of ribs. Sides will include potato salad, a medley of grilled veggies, and strawberry shortcake for desert. Sounds good, is easy to prepare, and will be just fine.

As I walked the aisles of the grocery store I thought about the many backyard barbecues that took place around birthdays while I was growing up. There was something special about them. Something different.

Brings back barbeque memories of days gone by

I remember that they always started with the anticipation of who would be coming and the preparation of the back yard. The lawn was almost always freshly cut and the picnic tables were draped with checkerboard or floral table cloths (it didn’t matter that they didn’t match). Lawn chairs were strategically placed where there could be places to sit in the shade or sun depending on your preference. Mom was working inside while dad was getting things ready on the small covered patio that was really little more than a concrete slab connecting the back steps with the yard.

Our old style barbeque had it’s designated place on the patio too. It was the type of barbeque that was wide and shallow and sat on top of its tripod legs. Later a pyramid of charcoal briquets would be carefully arranged around its center. Next to the grill was a TV tray or coffee table that was just for the chef – my dad. That’s where he wanted everything to be. His tools, the hand shaped burgers that mom had carefully prepared. His salt, pepper, and barbeque sauce. Anything that would go on the grill would be right there – ready for the cook at just the right time. Even the lightly butter buns that would be warmed to just the right temperature before they were served with a juicy thick burger, were ready and in position.

A table was waiting for all the side dishes that would magically appear as guests began to arrive. Salads, casseroles, corn on the cob, cookies and more. We never really knew what would arrive with my cousins, but you always knew that if one of our relatives made it, it was going to taste great.

Before long cars would start to fill the long driveway that led to our house. That’s when dad would douse the briquets with a type of lighter fluid that probably caused more singed arm hair over the years than he would be willing to admit. After soaking the charcoal and giving it an “extra squirt” for good measure, dad stood an arms distance away and tossed a lit match into the stack. A pyramid of flame and smoke erupted and the backyard began to fill with the first familiar smells of a barbeque. I loved that smell. Unfortunately it’s something we no longer experience, since we converted to propane and then to natural gas.

Barbecuing was more than a meal back then. It was an event. One that a lot of love went into and one that created memories. Who knew that those predictable preparations and familiar smells would last a lifetime and come rushing back while walking the aisles of a local grocery store on a sunny Sunday morning? Life can be funny like that.

Now I better go prepare the grill.

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Rod Brooks (that's me) is VP & CMO of PEMCO Mutual Insurance Company and serves as Immediate Past Chair of the Board of Directors for the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA).  It's important to disclose both of those relationships and to be clear that this is my personal blog where I share thoughts and opinions that are solely my own.  Contact me!

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