Sweat — it's such an unlady-like thing, not when you're in a hot yoga class or a Norwegian sauna. But when you're making something of a public appearance, it's appalling.
Imagine my dismay Saturday morning as I walked across the Yellow Parking lot at Reliant Park to serve as a judge in the first annual Linda Lorelle Scholarship Fund Barbeque Cook-off.
My linen shirt quickly went limp, my preppie shorts went all wrinkly and my all-important eye make-up began running south. Should've left that heavy, multi-string of turquoise beads at home. The fetching silver bracelets started to feel like sweaty handcuffs. What was I thinking?
Ah, but the moment the compelling aroma of barbecue began drifting my way, I knew it was going to be all right. When I landed in the shade of the judging tent, I found the perfect perch — in front of a giant air-conditioning fan. Beautiful.
Twenty-two teams braved the late-July heat and humidity to give it their all in a competition that included brisket, chicken (my fave) and pork spare ribs. The cooks, in fact, seemed impervious to the heat, even when standing next to their burning hot pits. High spirits and good food abounded, the heat be damned.
While dedicated barbecue fans such as Paul-David Van Atta, Hilton Americas-Houston catering director, volunteered to serve as judge for all three competitions, I was truly glad that I had committed to chicken only. After samples from 12 different contenders, I sort of had my full of barbecue for the day.
This judging thing is serious business. Just ask official Steve Williams of the International Bar-B-Que Cookers Association. He explained the rules to the first tier of judges, who tasted all12 entries, and then to the "finalist table" of judges who would then rate the best from the original dozen.
"Don't talk about the chicken," Williams ordered.
We silently tasted from the same chicken halves. We were issued a new plastic knife and fork for each bite. No exchange of germs here. Saltines, dill pickles and grapes were on the tables as palate cleansers.
Margaritas, beer, water and other libations were available as well. But organizers really wanted the judges sober. At 11 in the morning that actually wasn't a problem. By the 1 p.m. ribs judging and the 3 p.m. brisket tasting, I can't really say. I was back in air-conditioned comfort by then.
Joining me at the judging tables were friends of Linda Lorelle, friends of organizer Posey Parker and a few celebs including The Bachelorette's Jonathan Novak, Antiques Road Show expert Reyne Haines and Bellaire City Councilman Corbett Parker. Darla Lexington O'Quinn, companion of the late John O'Quinn, was also a judge.
On the sidelines were Holly Chervnsik, founder of SuburbanBuzz.com, retired top fuel drag racing star Lori Johns (a pioneer in female drag racing), Taping for the Blind honcho Brian Teichman and barbecue chair Tonya Pruett.