Those hosers whupped the U.S. of A in barbecue! On the freakin’ Fourth of July, no less!
Getting beat in basketball at the Olympics was shameful enough. But this? This is a gut punch. It hits us where we eat.
Those who bemoan the decline of U.S. supremacy in the world must be wondering if there is a floor to this free-fall.
Let history record that on July 4 at the American Embassy in Ottawa, three Canadian teams smoked three U.S. teams in a barbecue throwdown. For the record, the contest pitted two top Canadian national teams, Diva Q and Can’t Stop Grillin’, as well as a local Ottawa team, Eatapedia, against a championship-level U.S. team, Missouri’s Natural Born Grillers, a team of military chefs and First Choice Catering of Memphis. The six teams cooked pork shoulder, pork ribs and chicken.
The idea to hold the first formal barbecue competition between the countries was initiated by David Jacobson, the United States Ambassador to Canada. He probably thought it was a good idea at the time. Who, after all, could beat the U.S. at its own barbecue game? Surely, not the Canadians.
That, friends and countrymen, is hubris. Or maybe it’s just cluelessness.
After all, Jacobson served his Chicago hometown’s famous Eli’s cheesecake at the event. Now, Eli’s makes terrific cheesecake. But it ain’t no cobbler.
John Woods, a Memphis caterer, was tapped to put the event together. “I think we’re gonna win this thing hands-down,” he told the TV show “Canada AM.” “I don’t think it’s going to be any competition to us at all.”
Clearly rankled, Diva Q captain Danielle Dimovski turned away as if someone let loose a foul odor in an elevator. “I gotta say, Canadians are much tougher than Americans when it comes to barbecuing,” she retorted. “No matter the weather, whether it’s plus 30 or minus 30, we’re still under the grills.” She touted her patriotic use of Canadian maple products, then added: “We’re not as soft as them, maybe, down South.”
The competition was held at the ambassador’s residence, with 4,000 guests in attendance. Dimovski took the competition very seriously. Except for three hours to shower and catch a few restless winks, she stood by her smoker’s side all night on the embassy grounds.
“I was really hyped up,” she told me later. “There was no big trophy. No money. But national pride was on the line.”
She had another incentive, too. “I wasn’t just competing for Canadians,” she said. “But women, too. There are so few women on the circuit. It’s important to me that we show women can compete at the highest level.”
The judging was blind by local celebrities. The accounting firm Ernst & Young tabulated the results. The Canadians won each of the three categories and beat the Americans in total points.
Ever the Canadian, Dimovski was gracious in victory. “On any given day,” she said, “it is anyone’s barbecue game.”
For his part, Woods took the loss with admirable humility. “I gotta go home and eat crow,” he said.
No word from the ambassador about whether there will be a rematch.