This is the closest I come to outdoor grilling. Literally. I leave it to others to estimate the amount of smeary charcoal required; to ignite the dusty pyramid using their fire-making device of choice; to determine the amount of time to roast whatever piece of flesh awaits on the foiled tray; to extinguish hair-singeing grease fires that erupt; and — most important — to clean up. So it is with awe — even envy — that I and the lonely grill watch boss-hog trucks with barn door–size smoking contraptions rumble past the window on their way to Tom Lee Park and Memphis in May’s World Champion Barbecue Cooking Contest. When I first discovered Memphis in May — not long after the discovery of fire — the three main events resembled the three main stages in life: the Beale Street Music Festival was wild, rowdy, out of control, and decidedly youthful. The barbecue bonanza was a bit calmer by comparison, with adults having fun in the ways we do in our more moderate 30s and 40s. Then, the finale: the sedate, laid-back, culturally sophisticated Sunset Symphony by the river, where orchestral enjoyment was sipped with cabernet and tasted with Gouda. Memphis in May moves in this month, blanketing the city with music in the air, smoky barbecue in the wind, and culture in the soul. Head down to the river and watch it light your fire. Terre Gorham Editor
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