"The Social Network of the South"
A trail of smoke guided me through a neighborhood to Dreamland Bar-B-Que in Birmingham. The smell of smoke was my lighthouse. White bricks with red lettering were the only sign of decoration to the building. As I walked into the restaurant, license plates and beer signs supplied hints of color to the dark booths and tables. The clientele was a mixture of businessmen and blue-collar workers elbow deep in ribs and conversation.
Behind me, there was a man tending to a plethora of ribs in a brick pit. The smell of wood and meat took me back to my grandparent’s house on a Saturday afternoon. My waiter greeted me and I ordered a rack of ribs and fries. Seconds later, a Styrofoam plate filled with white bread and their signature sauce appeared on the table. Such a humble presentation for the most addictive sauce in the universe; spicy, vinegary, with a tomato base.
Shortly after, ribs and fries were piled in front of me. The ribs were drenched in the signature piquant sauce, crispy at the ends, tender on the inside. I dunked the crispy, perfectly seasoned fries in the sauce (I would have drunk it if I weren’t a lady). Full and content, I gazed outside and there was a haze from the smoke billowing away from the restaurant. As I got up to leave, I noticed the paper that my ribs were served on and it read, “Ain’t nothing like ‘em nowhere.” What an appropriate assertion as I venture through the smoke, wake up and get back to reality. Thank you, Dreamland.
Amber Ryder-Wilson was born into a Cajun family in which making roux became a rite of passage. She is a freelance writer and the author, recipe developer and photographer for the Southern memoir-style blog www.fortheloveofthesouth.com.