Smokers come out
Many smokers at the block party look like professional pieces of cooking equipment. Others, like this one, are more akin to badass steampunk machines.
Rodney Scott's smokers
This was Rodney Scott's first year at the block party, where he smoked 24 whole hogs. Each of these smokers is like a magical pig sarcophagus: raw, whole meat goes in and immaculate barbecue comes out. The tall chimneys in the back are actually homemade barrel furnaces, which Rodney used to make his own charcoal.
Speaking of pig, here's one now.
Some of Scott's crew shooting the breeze before the weekend madness. One asked a nearby pedestrian, "hey, where can I get a good hot dog around here?"
Rodney Scott and Ed
Rodney and Ed chat face to face. The last time Rodney talked to us, it was by phone, and he was also clearing out a fallen tree from a neighbor's driveway so he could harvest it for smoking.
"We get touchy feely with keeping temperature," Rodney says. He puts his hand to the smoker: "this is my thermometer."
Not content to cook for over 100,000 people over the next two days, pit master Gary Roark of Ubon's grilled some killer chicken for passersby. Were we hungry? Nope. Do you refuse a smiling pit master handing you nubbins of succulent chicken straight off the grill? Hell no.
A self-driving pallet of beans, large enough for three people to hang out on. You can call that a lot of beans.
A member of the Martins crew to Ed, as they talked about barbecue joints extending themselves beyond the cuts they excel at: "We won't be doing chicken fingers and all that shit—we'll be doing barbecue."
...he says while blithely holding a shovelful of smoldering coals.
Big Bob Gibson's
The crew at Big Bob's started preparing the 200 or so Boston butts they expected to sell on Saturday. First they get a flavor injection marinade...
Big Bob Gibson's
...and then a thick coating of a spice rub.
Ed and Chris Lilly
Pit master Chris Lilly, talking about prep for the day ahead. In the back: an enormous rotary smoker completely full of pork.
Ed and Don McLemore
Big Bob Gibson's grandson, and Chris's father in law. Ed was quick to point out that Don at one time made "the only barbecue chicken that was a religious experience," topped with a white sauce that brought it to transcendental heights. As I write this, Don's on his way back to Decatur, Alabama. Come back, Don! Teach the $5 chicken, rice, and white sauce vendors here your secrets!
Ed and Mike Mills
Ed shares a few last words with 17th Street Barbecue pit master Mike Mills before letting him go off to smoke hundreds of ribs.