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A Family Barbecue in the Bluegrass

by Grace
(Scottsville, Kentucky, United States of America)

159. Summer barbecue and side dishes

When I think of summer barbecues, I think back to family reunions I've attended. I see a white-and-red checkerboard tablecloth - plastic, a little stained, a tear here or there - draped over a table in a covered picnic structure in a local park. You hear children screaming and playing, family members talking, and the older family members playing bluegrass music. The food on the table looks delicious, though for the most part, aunts and grandmothers have covered their dishes with plastic wrap and lids to keep the ever-present flies away. Cole slaw looks delicious, though you hope that it's been kept cool. Pasta salad is always inviting, especially when made with tomatoes. The fried foods darken the paper towels on which they rest with oil, but they taste so good, and chewing the last piece of chicken off a discarded fried skin is something I've always enjoyed. I don't care much for the baked beans - something about the humid weather makes me want cold food or fried food. I make an exception for the grilled hamburgers and hot dogs. The grill marks hold the possibility of a smoked, charcoal taste when I bite into them, and a burger with some cheese melted onto it over a charcoal grill, thrown on a bun with a thick slice of fresh tomato and a piece of lettuce, a dab of mustard and mayo, is my idea of heaven. I think my favorite table is the one covered with the sweets and pies, preferrably homemade. The pecan-studded top of a chess pie puts off children with its complexity and promise of something other than chocolate, but as an adult, I find it to be one of my favorites. A mostly-empty tin of brownies will usually have scrape marks where people have scooped up the crumbs and broken edges of other people's desserts to add to their own. That person doing clean-up duty is usually me. I wish I had a family barbecue to attend soon - I at least need to take down, and taste test, my grandmother's recipe for chess pie.

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