I tried to read this article on a barbecue restaurant in Harajuku (Harajuku lures foodies to the smoked BBQ pit | The Japan Times) yesterday, but the Japan Times site wouldn't let me. Now I have. And now I have a new Tokyo destination!
While I'm largely ignorant of its culture other than in the eating of it, barbecue looms large in my family. My mom's branch comes from North Carolina, where people take their regional sauces very seriously indeed. I remember one family reunion up there where a distant uncle or cousin or something or other of mine (I can't keep track of all the family relationships there because they're pretty far away) brought out several jars of homemade barbecue sauce and described each. He really knew his sauces, but I have to admit my eyes glazed over and I didn't pay much attention. Tasting them is all that matters to me, not history or ingredients or whether or not there's vinegar or mustard or whatever as a base.
Both my older brothers really know their way around a grill and a smoker, and they've competed in a few contests. They've never placed. As good as they are, there are tons of people who are even better. That boggles my mind. My sister-in-law hosted a charity BBQ cook-off a few years back and I tried the second place dish and it just about blew my mind. It was one of the best bits of food of any kind I've ever put in my mouth, and it was cold and had been sitting out on a table for hours. I can't even imagine what the first place barbecue must have tasted like. We've long enjoyed our home cooking, but a person who is seriously into barbecue is a food artisan who takes this art to a higher level. We can only gaze up longingly and hope some shreds of pork fall off and into our mouths.
Anyway, my wife and I are supposed to be planning our New Year's trip for this year. She doesn't have many days off and we've discussed Kyoto or Atami. I don't know. It may require some major concessions on my part in the coming year, but I'm thinking... Harajuku... barbecue...
Life is compromise.