1. Rendezvous Barbecue. Yesterday Nathan and I sat for lunch at Memphis' storied king of barbecue place (or so the locals generally agree...there is some debate among the natives, just like us in KC) known as Rendezvous. The ambiance was excellent. You have to enter the "restaurant" from an alley. Upon entrance you descend about ten stairs in to a big bar-like room that reminds me of a scene from Goodfellas (particularly the room where Joe Pesci's character shoots Spider). It's obvious Rendezvous could care less about warm, southern hospitality, as they basically act like it's a privilege to eat there when they "greet" you and point to where you can sit. As we sat down, the server told us there are two choices for lunch- a full slab or a half slab. We opted for the full slab, of course. Seconds later our slab is in front of us. Concurrent with our meal is a huge verbal battle between the "chef" and one of the servers. They were screaming at each other. It was pretty funny. If you've been to Gates in KC, you'd appreciate the volume of this battle. I think Nathan wanted to use his nouthetic counseling skills to help these guys, however, they wouldn't fill out the intake forms...ha ha. To the main point- the ribs were very good. They were the "dry rub" variety of barbecue. There's a light sauce on the ribs (pork) but the rub is the key flavor element on/in these ribs. Nathan and I slowly ate, so as to give a fair and balanced review. The ribs were sort of dry (to be fair-by design, representing a genre of BBQ), very salty. Pros- good flavor, tasty pork, and a nice side of beans (though not as tasty as Jack Stack in KC). Cons- grossly overpriced ($16.75 for 8 pork ribs! Someone call the cops! The whole pig wasn't worth that when it was alive!), BBQ sauce not great, false advertising- DEFINITELY NOT "THE BEST" BARBECUE IN THE COUNTRY...it's official, you have to go to KC for that! If I get back to to Memphis, I'll go where our cabbie (on the way to the airport) told us to go- some place called Blues City BBQ, I believe. I'm still skeptical that KC BBQ can be beat.
2. Graceland. The title of this post is "BBQ and TCB". The "TCB" stands for Elvis' 70's slogan- taking care of business (in a flash, symbolized by a lightning bolt). I was pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed the Graceland tour. It's well organized, not too long, filled with intriguing information, and focuses on the most interesting elements of Elvis' life. I've always thought Elvis' life was tragic, humanly speaking. If he was still alive, he'd only be 72. He died very young at 42. Still, he had a unique,prolific career. I learned he personally requested President Nixon make him an undercover narcotics officer since so many fringe groups who ran drugs trusted him, that was the purpose for his White House visit in 1972. He was concerned with the drug culture of the 70's. Certainly ironic, given his own long time dependence on amphetamines. His "jumpsuits" were pretty stylin'. I hear many making fun of his "later years", particularly 1976-77 when he gained quite a bit of weight just before dying in August of '77. He did look a bit bloated in those last months, but viewing his jumpsuits gave better perspective...I doubt I'd fit in to one. Ouch! I guess I've been living the "Elvis- later years" (minus 40 pills a day) for a while. I definitely recommend visiting this interesting piece of Americana if you find yourself in Memphis. Maybe I'll do my doctoral dissertation on the theology of Elvis Aaron Presley...that would be very interesting.