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    Friday, August 23, 2019-1:18:06A.M.

     

     

     

     

     

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BC’s Tales of the Pacific | Making friends while smoking meats

I SPENT the weekend with a crew of fifty people from all over the country, drawn together for a wonderful purpose.  We were tasked with feeding five thousand people from all over the world who had gathered for an international convention.

Our assignment involved smoking seven thousand pounds of pork butts and ten thousand pounds of ribs. For that we assembled fifteen giant smoke trailers in a parking lot. My crew consisted of Nathan, Ben, Mark and Rocky.

Nathan is a welder by trade, one of the best I have ever known, and owns a welding and metalworking shop. He is my fellow designer and tinkerer when it comes to grillers and smokers. We brainstorm on ideas to make our grills bigger, more efficient or just more useful. Nathan’s father owns a cleaning business but Nathan learned that he enjoyed fixing things more than he enjoyed cleaning them.

Ben is a large, loveable teddy bear of a man, whose favorite hobbies are people, food and travel. Not surprisingly then, he loves to fly around the world sampling cuisine. We share a love for the out of the way eateries; you won’t find him in a chain restaurant or anything recommended in a travel brochure. Ben has virtually no ego, he always does what is asked and never complains. No job is beneath him.

If there is anyone more humble than Ben it is Mark. One of the tallest people I know, he changes lightbulbs in the ceiling without a step ladder. He is a drywaller by trade and is the only man on the crew that can hang a ceiling while standing on the floor. He used to install gutters and I imagine him hanging them without help also. If we all decided we needed our feet washed, Ben and Mark would fight over the privilege of washing them.

Rocky is a 64-year old auto mechanic who rebuilds classic cars as a hobby. His current love, a 1956 Ford pickup, has won many car shows, including World of Wheels in 2006. I have known him most of my life but lost touch a few years ago. It is good to see him and reconnect now that he is on the verge of retirement. Last night Rocky held a fish fry for all the meat smokers, the best fish in years.

From diverse backgrounds gathers this crew, and we enjoy each other’s company immensely. With 75 pork ribs slowly smoking on our trailer we share stories of family and adventure, laughs and loves. The work is exhausting and the camaraderie is faith-strengthening. We are not alone. Family and friends get us through this life.

I want to tell them what this weekend has meant to me, to my stability and peace of mind, but the words aren’t necessary. They know it and feel the same way. The people we are preparing all this food for are important too, but right now Nathan, Ben, Mark and Rocky are my most important friends. I enjoy every moment of this.

BC Cook taught history for 20 years. He lived on Saipan and travels the Pacific but currently resides on the mainland U.S.