I hesitated. I licked my lips. My hands shook like a bad metaphor in the gentle breeze. I lined my lap with paper towels. It could get messy … very messy. I looked around and saw a wood carving of two pigs locking snouts, their stubby legs entwined. Was that even legal?
After three weeks of anticipation, the butterflies in my stomach felt more like bats. I was hypnotized by the hickory scent the minute I walked through the doors of Smoked From Above, a BBQ joint tucked between a fake Irish pub and a sandwich job at the nondescript Landstown Commons strip mall of Virginia Beach, a little east of Norfolk. A work acquaintance told me that Smoked from Above’s BBQ was “the best I’ve ever had.” It was just 15 minutes from my hotel and I had little choice but to surrender myself to pig heaven.
Eat me. Sh-h-h-h … You can wait.
Do what I say. Now.
I was on my knees (figuratively) when I ordered the three-meat platter, which comes with hush puppies and two sides (I got a bowl of potato salad and collared greens because I’m on a diet). If I had to do it over again, I would’ve asked for the kitchen to substitute my sides with a fourth meat.
First were the ribs, which looked so smooth and juicy that I mistook the quarter slab on my plate for a chicken breast. I bit into one.
I’m not going to say “the meat fell off the bones,” since that has occurred when I’ve bitten into bad ribs. However, they were savory and buttery – with a smoky aftertaste that went well with either a sweeter “original” sauce or the more tart “dirty” mustard.
Next was the sausage, which complemented the ribs well – providing a tasty, briny contrast. I ate quickly so the full platter didn’t remind me of a Ron Jeremy retrospective.
Last was the shredded brisket, which was leathery no matter how much I slathered it with sauce.
The sides are barely worth mentioning. Both the potato salad and the collared greens tasted like something I could get out of a can. Nothing like Big Mama used to make back in the day.
The wait staff and cashier were friendly, giving us a 10% military discount and continually checking on us as we continued our protein binge. The ambience was what you would expect – the stuff is served on environmentally unfriendly styrofoam plates. I can almost guarantee none of the food was organic, locally grown, farm fresh or sustainable.
I’m not ashamed to say I’m in love. Is it possible to fall in love with meat?
As I wiped beads of sweat from my brow and admired the damaged I’d done to my digestive system, this John Legend ode to Chrissy Teigen started playing in the eatery … one that an equally enamored Truman would be happy to sing with me as we dug into another plate of ribs. You hurt me, but I love you, meat.