Tomorrow is Thanksgiving… and due to all fault of my own, I’m staying in town instead of heading up to the Carolinas with family. Someone needs to teach me how to look at a calendar when I’m planning special events for work that require my presence. So, instead of spending time with loved ones out of town, I’ll be bacheloring it up alone.
Don’t cry for me, Argentina. With what I’m about to say about Thanksgiving, there’s a good chance that I would’ve ended up alone anyhow; ostracized due to historical accuracy. Ahem… Here it goes. Turkey was not the traditional main course of Thanksgiving.
It is now, so don’t get mad. Chances are you’ve had that scientifically-engorged creature thawing out in the fridge already; no time to hit the brakes and change menus. Not that you would, either, because everyone – Everyone! – eats turkey tomorrow.
We’re not even getting into when the actual first New World giving of thanks was (Spanish explorers in Texas in 1541 followed by the French “raht-cheer” in Florida circa 1564) or that the popular story of starving Pilgrims being bailed out by Native Americans was actually Brownist Separatists paying back the Wampanoag Tribe with a feast once their harvest was complete… No, we’re here to find out that pork ribs were the thing to eat once a more recurring form of Thanksgiving had been established.
Pork ribs. Why? Late-November harvest, once the pig was at its fattest, was the time when little Wilbur got his and the farmers would cure most of him for the long, cold months ahead. What wasn’t cured was turned into sausage. Turkey used to be readily available throughout the year, so a large family could – sigh – gobble one up within a day or two. Pork back then needed refrigeration otherwise trichinosis could set in, hence the curing and winter storage. Turkey? They could get that any time. Pork was special, and with the ribs being a portion suitable for a big family that cut got the Thanksgiving go-ahead.
As I’ll be alone and this is the South, I’m going completely untraditional tomorrow and doing Soul Food. I can’t think of a better style of food that can compete with Thanksgiving’s “-itis” after-effects. (NOTE TO EDITOR: that’s not a typo for “it is.” For better definition of “The Itis,” see Dave Chappelle’s sketch on BBQ for bedtime.) Now, to find a beer that pairs with dry-rubbed pork ribs patted down with a vinegar-based mop sauce, stewed Collards with bacon, fried onion mashed taters, mac-n-cheese and sweet potato pie.
The trick is to find a malt-forward beverage with just enough hop oil presence to cut through the fattiness without overshadowing the food; complimenting it instead. Baba Black Lager from Uinta Brewing is just such a beverage. It’s the darkest shade of brown there is and possesses scents of coffee, toast, wet grain and a tiny bit of chocolate. Mellow flavors of dark bread, chocolate, coffee and smoke abound making for an excellent pairing for slow-smoked ribs. Best of all, if one is gorging upon a mountain of food, Baba is a light-bodied, low-ABV session beer.
Happy Thanksgiving, all you history buffs! Cheers!