Today’s art challenge prompt is barbecue, also known as barbeque, and it means pretty much three different things at once. It refers to a method of cooking, the style and flavor of the food itself, and even the actual gathering of people that come together to eat it. And here in Kansas City, any version of the word is quickly shortened to BBQ and refers mostly to the tangy red sauce that has become a bit of a competition between restaurants. When someone is visiting KC, you’ll certainly see that it’s a City Of Fountains, and learn that the name is also a style of jazz developed in the 1930’s, but mostly, you’ll be taken to eat some BBQ at your host’s favorite place. If you instead, come visit us, you’ll just end up listening to jazz and eating a vegetable kebab, as we don’t really eat that much meat. Also, though we have an outdoor grill, it doesn’t get used very often as Philippe does all the cooking and didn’t grow up with the same traditions. One season, we neglected to use the grill entirely, and a family of wasps decided to take up residence inside. But there’s just something missing when you live in the city and don’t have a backyard like I did as a kid.
When I was young, my dad, who never cooked, was in charge of the grilling. It was always odd to me that he suddenly remembered how to cook when he found himself outdoors. My mom made many wonderful things inside the house, but my dad was apparently only capable browning meat over an open flame. This phenomenon repeated itself at family gatherings when my uncles, who never once showed up carrying a freshly made Bundt cake like my aunts, suddenly sprung into action at the sight of a grill. They would congregate around it offering culinary tips and arguing over the proper methods as though they had just graduated from Le Cordon Bleu. I could never really tell the difference when one person was grilling the food versus the next, but it always tasted perfectly delicious so I was in awe of their collective genius. Such skills were probably best reserved for special times and they became the smoky signature of those summer months.
And food cooked outdoors usually comes with a super fun time with friends and family. This, in the end, is what I remember most and probably why the food tasted just a little bit better. Not to slight my dad’s sudden and mysterious cooking skills, but those summer memories of eating a grilled hamburger and rushing off to catch lightning bugs, just as the sun was setting, were perfectly magical. The days had grown longer at that point and it seemed like each one was nearly endless. Night was only a brief little nap before you could wake up once more to a day filled with amazing new adventures. Perhaps that’s why every summer I get an urge to try new things and create entirely new projects each year. I’m currently working on one at the moment that I hope to launch in the next few weeks. And most of you, by now, have already heard of the one that I launched two years ago known as World Watercolor Month which will be back in July! The following year, I started a social community on this very site! So, for me anyway, summer is a time for imagining new and incredible possibilities while we’re enjoying that wonderful and timeless tradition of backyard summer grilling.
About the Doodlewash
Da Vinci Paint Co.: Nickel Azo Yellow, Quinacridone Red, Benzimida Orange, Leaf Green and Phthalo Blue. Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen with sepia ink in an A5 Hahnemühle Watercolour Book. Want to purchase a print of this doodlewash? Send me a note with a link to this post, and I’ll add it to my shop!
Creator of Doodlewash®, founder of World Watercolor Month (July), World Watercolor Group™, and host of the Sketching Stuff Podcast. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!