Have you ever tasted a memory? Tonight… I did.
1998 – A 20 year old Oklahoma State College student and his pals pull into a parking spot along “The Strip” in Stillwater, Oklahoma, on a Thursday afternoon. Eager to get in line and order the Thursday special… 2-for-1 Pulled Pork sandwiches and 75 cent Budweiser bottles. For $6.00, you got 2 mouth-watering sandwiches and 2 ice cold beers that were so cold (the beer, not the sandwiches) the ice would be stuck to the bottle. But this day was different. This day, the beer was not ice cold. The smell of smoked meats was mysteriously absent. There were no longer Oklahoma Joe smokers lined up along the windows. The long hardwood tables and benches where we had shared so many Thursday specials, slabs of ribs and ice cold brews were no more. The building was a ghost… a good friend who just disappeared without warning. A memory that would only live on as an anecdote in our personal accounts of our youth.
So it is understandable that when I read the Tweet from @tdmarkit8dude that the old Runt’s BBQ building in Broken Arrow (and also formerly Gameday Tailgate Bar & Grill) stating that the building’s marquee read “Oklahoma Joe’s BBQ Coming This Fall”, my excitement over this new addition to the Tulsa BBQ scene rose to epic levels. And my excitement has held no boundaries. I, along with many other Tulsa and Broken Arrow natives, have taken many side-trips over the last 3 months to follow the progress of legendary pit master Joe Don Davidson’s latest venture. From the addition of signs to the building, to new construction going on in the back of the building (which turned out to be Joe’s smokehouse, equipped with the same models of smokers that have made him an icon in the competition BBQ circuit), to a personal tour of the restaurant’s progress with Joe himself… all this anticipation spread out over 3 months came down to this one epic Manly Food moment… The moment I sat down at Oklahoma Joe’s BBQ, picked up the bottle of BBQ sauce as I do at every BBQ joint I visit, and squeezed out that drop sublime nectar onto my finger and stuck it in my mouth.
You see, my love affair with this development wasn’t tied to the fact that Joe Davidson has won over 300 barbeque championships. It wasn’t tied into the fact that he was the co-founder of one of Kansas City’s finest and most successful BBQ restaurants… the restaurant that Anthony Bourdain labeled as one of 13 Places to Eat Before You Die. It wasn’t even tied into Joe’s countless television and media appearances. This infatuation stems from memories of my youth. Memories that molded me into the Manly Food connoisseur I am today. Memories I can taste.
This moment. This single, solitary point in time when Oklahoma Joe’s BBQ sauce hit the tip of my tongue tonight for the first time since 1998 was, perhaps, my single greatest moment as a foodie so far. It was a moment that reminds me why I take pictures of the food I eat. Why I tweet those pictures out for anyone who cares to see them. That moment is why I do what I do.
Check out the full post and pics here.