I’ve been working in the industry since I was a teenager. It’s one way I survive between educational and professional opportunities within the fields I actually want to work within. Thus, I’m investing into my smoked barbecue skills, working in the pizza kitchen at a dive bar, developing original recipes, a cookbook titled Gastronomy Complex: A Cookbook for Anyone and Noone, and I’m seeking to launch a smoked barbecue restaurant titled Backwoods Smoked Barbecue & Spirits. I celebrate the art of food and it’s like a “sweet potato” to my literary, scholarly, and artistic “corn(bread & butter.)”

Backwoods Smoked Barbecue & Spirits: The Vision

Backwoods Smoked Barbecue is my meth operation, my answer to my survival needs as I seek to pay student debt, rent, healthcare, basic subsistence, purchase books, and create art. It will be addictive, high quality, original, and uniquely creative.

We all have to pay the bills. I could just be selling crack, meth, bath salts, or something like that, but that just seems cliché now, after Breaking Bad and all. I guess a restaurant is too[sing it!] “let’s open up a restaurant…”but I’ve been working in the industry since I stood on the corner in a pizza costume before I could legally work.

I was a dishwasher at a Mexican fast food place and I made milkshakes at this fifties themed diner, all before I was seventeen. They’d never had a male host before, so the manager kept calling me a hostess. Anyhow, I’m developing my smoked barbecue skills in anticipation of opening up my own smoked barbecue (perhaps spirits too) operation.

Perhaps we might become a global chain of fast casual dining establishments, like Franklin’s meets Flyrite Chicken. Alternatively, or perhaps additionally, we might create an über-like network of smokers around the world where one can order a brisket and other classics with twenty four hours notice or browse what’s available on demand within the “neighborwood”, to give a nod to Buzz Mill, the best cafe & bar in my old neighborhood in Austin, TX—Southeast Riverside. Also, shout out to John from Google for inspiring the Über Smoke idea. I already contacted Über about my Über Musick proposal like a year ago and they never responded, so I’m not going to waste my time again. Also, shout out to Matt from Cashmere for conceiving of Über Musick with me during a Zoom call in 2020. I look forward to sharing Backwoods’s first brisket tonight! (08/03/2021.)

Anyhow, here at Backwoods, what is becoming Backwoods Smoked Barbecue & Spirits, that is, we’re not actually operational yet, we’re just running little culinary experiments, I’m creating a unique menu. It’s this hipster chic artsy upscale vibe with food you can’t get anywhere else, except classic brisket, there has to be classic brisket done right, done “damn good”. The imagined menu currently includes a classic brisket, pork belly, poultry (chicken & goose), homemade venison sausages, and our magical Patagonian chimichurri sausages in chicken or mushroom. Our signature sauces include Cherrybomb! Cherry & Habanero BBQ, It’s A Mole! Mole BBQ, and the Backwoods BBQ, which features one of our distinguished ingredients: juniper. We have a brunch menu too.

You might be asking, “why geese?” They eat Geese for Christmas in Germany and I feel that it jives with the nearby local German themed village. I also really want to eat a goose. One of my German colleagues from when I was in a Ph.D. program attended my Christmas celebration in 2015 while in lederhosen and spoke about the wonders of the Christmas goose. I have been eagerly awaiting the day when I can cook and eat a goose ever since then. I am very patient!

I just want to be a writer. I don’t want to do this, per se. However, when I enter into a writing and arts program, I’ll still be applying during the coming application season, I can now say that I will bring this added gift to the department, the gift of extremely high quality smoked barbecue. I imagine myself continuing to operate once a week or something like that. I can just sit here and continue my writing while smoking barbecue. Also, it’s like super unlikely that I’ll actually get into a fully funded program, so I’m hedging my bets. If this plan doesn’t work out, I’ll probably actually have to sell meth or something. That is a joke. I do have a job. I work in the kitchen of a dive bar pizza restaurant. I’m writing a play about it.

It’s titled A Dive Bar in the Backwoods & Its Unwanted Customers. A female sculptor seeks to escape the city. The critics, her peers, her lack of success, her inability to pay rent and the bills while seeking to work as a professional arts practitioner, it’s all become stifling. She has a breakdown prior to the opening of the curtains. The whole play is mis en scene. The audience can see a few of the tables, the bar, the entry way, and they’re given a little peak into the kitchen. “‘Sometimes you wanna go where [nobody] knows your name'”, she says to the bartender upon arrival.

Thus, the play progresses to examine the woman’s inability to adapt to her environments, equally so within the backwoods as within the city arts culture. It’s ambiguously between a tragic flaw and entirely understandable; your perceptions might swing like a pendulum throughout the piece. She feels pressured to become a wood sculptor selling trinkets along the highway and it’s maddening. She has a master’s degree in arts practice from an elite university. Yet, there are these waves of “terrorforming”, my fancy word for Klein’s concept of “splitting”, nudging her to become this vision of a woman selling such trinkets that she saw upon entering the woods. It’s as if some sort of Brahmanic force is operating through the people of the backwoods upon her and there are these waves of uppity city dwellers, the majority of the unwanted customers, against which the locals appear chill. There are a few quirky locals, and an incident with a predator in the basement that the audience can only hear, “it’s probably a cougar”, the author is thinking, but the locals in the bar hear her screaming bloody murder and think, “it’s probably just a spider.” In the end, it all leads up to a choice. She can become a member of the community, take on the role of the local sculptor and seller of trinkets, or she can run away again, to god knows where. That’s the gist. What would you do?

Which slogan is better for the classic brisket? “Bite/Bark” or “Bite the Bark”? Brisket’s outer shell is referred to as bark and our logo will feature a wolf that emerges from the smoke, hopefully taking a bite out of consumers’ wallets and leaving them beyond satisfied with the quality of our world class smoked barbecue! It will be absolutely Leavenworth it!

Note to self: Juniper is an incredibly aggressive ingredient. The Juniper sauce is delicious, but it’s probably too strong and niche to be the house standard. I will go hunting for salal one of these days to experiment with it. It might be too obscure of an ingredient to feature as a principle within the house sauce, but we could create jobs in the salal picking industry. Is there a salal picking industry? Perhaps we will create one!

I think round two of the juniper experimentation should incorporate red wine with a slightly diminished proportion of juniper in the spice mix. When we incorporate salal, it will probably be ornamental as my research indicates that the quality of salal berries is incredibly variable. Meanwhile, the house sauce will be made with Icicle Enchantments beer. It’s simply the best. Additional ingredients to be announced.

As I continue this journey to discover and create the divine within the culinary field, among others, I will be consulting McGee’s On food and Cooking to get “under the hood”. I have also been consulting the meat-smoking manifesto from my favorite little barbecue in Austin, TX. Lastly, I also subscribe to NYT Cooking, which is an endless font of wonderful culinary knowledge.

“Science and art [the culinary too], when they are true, are directed not to temporary or private purposes, but to the eternal and the general…”

Anton Chekhov, The House with the Mezzanine, 1896.

The Parody Zone

(though I’m actually beyond serious.)

Imagine psilocybin infused vegetarian sausages.  I’ve been designing the Backwoods Smoked Barbecue & Spirits menu up here in the backwoods in the Cascade mountains and we’re growing closer to the event every day.  There will be a critical juncture for a number of industries.  Some might already be involved in the legalization movement; meanwhile, others are engaging in black market activities. Then there are people like me who might merely just be waiting for others to create the opportunities for them—we the great herons.  Opportunity is on the horizon.

See my master’s report, Institutional Disruption As Process & Strategy: A Conceptual & Theoretical framework (REPORT), regarding my thoughts about preparations for and the navigation of the initial moment of legalization.  There’s a movement around the world to legalize psilocybin, the principle chemical contained within magic mushrooms, equally so for medicinal as for recreational purposes.  Are you prepared? 

PURE PARODY: We are seeking willing volunteers to sample our new magical menu.

REAL TALK: Someone should be doing this, preparing for the magical future. I’ll be happy to provide the recipes for the “muggle” sausages that I create for another who actually partakes in the wonder of magic mushrooms to adapt. Hopefully you partner with me when the moment of legalization arrives. I’ll be happy to provide my culinary and social scientific knowledge as one navigates the turbulent period of legalization and seeking to establish market dominance in the wake of legalization. You do your thing, I’ll do mine, and when legalization arrives, let’s join forces to create something awesome!

RESEARCH NOTES: There’s actually not a lot of peer reviewed research into the interaction of psilocybin with temperature and other cooking processes, but what is out there (see Gotvaldova, et al. 2021 in Drug Test Anal. 2021;13:439–446.) does indicate that time and temperature interact to degrade concentrations, potencies, etc. One would also want to be fully aware of how those and other factors interact with other agents contained within the mushrooms. Some of the chemical agents contained within mushrooms appear to have unpleasant effects that could be amplified. I don’t want to mess around with this, but I encourage more highly trained researchers to begin a research program at the intersection of culinary science, neuropsychopharmacology, business, anthropology, and government. Let’s make it safe, tasty, culturally sensitive, and legal!

Disclaimer: I do not actually take myself that seriously anymore.