It isn't often since my return from a six-year vacation in Florida that I get the chance to have real barbecue. Not the kind around here that implies meat soaked in sauce, but the kind where the meat, its taste and tenderness and how long it was cooked are more important than any sauce.
So I was excited to visit Nashville this past weekend and get some legit BBQ at one of the city's most famous establishments, Martin's BBQ Joint.
The problem -- for me -- with legit BBQ places, however, is that it usually means a mountain of food. And it's always so good, you can't help yourself from cleaning the plate. Heck, you can't stop yourself from licking it clean.
So I tried to make good choices ... I got brisket, because it's the only meat for me, but decided on green beans and cornbread hoecake instead of fries and mac and cheese.
In true legit BBQ fashion, the meal also include two unmentioned-on-the-menu slices of white bread. And our host ordered about five rounds of appetizers. And the alcohol was free flowing.
AND, just because sauce isn't the main thing, doesn't mean it's not A thing. Martin's had four varieties, my favorite of course being the sweet and spicy.
I ate every bite and had two drinks. (Plus three glasses of water, a small victory.) Plus two hush puppies our host offered to share.
And I was absolutely miserable the rest of the night. I was awake every two hours with heartburn and discomfort.
Some might chalk it up to a good meal enjoyed, the suffering well worth the satisfaction.
But I know better. I knew it would kill my delicate stomach ... and I ate it anyway.
This, I find, is one of the biggest challenges of getting healthier -- not doing all the things you know will hurt you but you love.
I love BBQ. But it hates me. And I've got to remember that if I'm every going to get better.
Thank goodness Martin's -- and most other good BBQ -- is four hours away.