36th Annual World Championship Goat Cook-off This Weekend in Brady Texas[Sept 4-5th 2009]
Mack Brown better hope the Longhorn faithful don't find out about Brady's goat cook-off or Darrell Royal Stadium won't have a soul in it this weekend.
Favorite quote:There are approximately 20,000 goats in McCulloch County, which boasts a human population of less than 9,000. McCulloch County ranks among the top 20 counties in the nation for the number of goats produced.
It took a week for the goat-haze to wear off but here's my Goat party report:
Best food party I've ever been to in the state of Texas.
So good it made me want to show up to Taste of Mexico[if they're gutsy enough to try it again]in Austin and just start dropkicking people.
The town of Brady is a Texas gem.It's a good looking little village,bordering on bucolic.The folks in charge of the goat cook-off are clearly brimming with wisdom as they've chosen a nicely forested park on the city's edge as the setting;Richards' Park is straight lovely.I park about a mile or so away[the official parking lot is a giant mudpit from the previous evening's torrential downpour]and begin my hike in.
Good country folk are streaming into the forest down the paths from the parks' fringe.I note that almost everyone is wearing a goat-oriented shirt my favorite being a big horned Boer goat in illicit congress with the Strawberry Shortcake cartoon character.
As I make my way into the trees the intoxicating smell of roasting goat is right at heady.Sizzling flesh is one of my all time favorite aromas and there are dozens[180 cook-teams are entered this year with 20 on standby]of smokers pouring blue smoke all over the place.
When I get in a situation such as this I like to be methodical.I'm determined to sample the maximum amount of goat and have meaningful interaction with the men and women responsible for what portends to be an almost vulgar display of deliciousness.
The next 5 hours turn into a goat fueled bacchanal.I meet scores of people obsessed with barbecue in all its' forms and sample the following:
Roast Suckling Pig[ the fiends responsible had an apple in the mouth of the swine]
Corn on the Cob
Peanut Brittle and
Quail stuffed with chorizo
Apparently there are goat plate lunches available for sale somewhere on the grounds but I never actually see any.As I approach each camp I strike up a conversation with a member of the cook team[I'm an old school goat cook-learned the Mediterranean technique at the knee of an elderly Greek man who migrated to USA in the sixties]next thing you know I'm eating like a king.
There are many accomplished pit bosses I converse with.As is normal they hold their ingredients and technique as closely guarded secrets."Seasonings" is about as specific as most get when pressed for information.
I meet Texans from Brady,Brownwood,Llano,Sour Lake,Beaumont,Austin,Georgetown,Paris,Longview,Buda,Lubbock,Sugarland,La Grange,Luling,New Braunfels,San Angelo,Waxahachie and a few other places.
Other nations are well represented too as I share conversation with folks from Australia,Germany,France and Sweden.Everybody is so nice it's silly.We are one nation united under the powerful sway of the common goat.
There are hell raisers cooking goat,devout christians cooking goat,bikers cooking goat and housewives cooking goat.Hell everybody is cooking goat.8-80 half drunk or crazy it seems like everybody has a smoker crammed full of goat or some other equally delicious animal.
At 4-ish we all make our way to the center of the park for the awards ceremony.A trio of local beauty queens complete with tiaras and toothy grins are on hand to dish out the trophys.A hush falls over the crowd[save one gentleman whose call to arms is a Tarzan yell that whips the crowd into a quasi frenzy] as the mc begins his announcements.
I noted the winners in a post a couple days ago so I won't go back over it but the cook team I felt like had the best goat[at least that I sampled] by a good margin was excluded from the winning entries.As I commiserated with the young gentlemen off to the side the notion that a fix was in was floated.
I'm not privy to the machinations of the judging so I'll leave that at that.I don't recall the name of the team excluded but their goat was succulent,salty and tempered with a slight fruity note which played off the muskiness of the goat very nicely.
That being said I ate no bad goat on this day.It was all varying degrees of deliciousness.
I roll out of Richards Park late in the afternoon.The camps are beginning to bust up.The spell which we've all been under for the last few hours has broken.I make my way out of the shelter of the park and back under the hot yellow Texas sun.As I begin the hike back to my parking space I pass a family at a campsite near the edge of the park.A towheaded boy is frolicking with a very cute young goat,perhaps 6 months old.
"Is he your pet" I inquire.
"He is.I love him"
"That's a good looking goat"
"He sure is.My daddy says when he gets big enough we get to eat him"
I nod silently at the father's Solomonic wisdom and contemplate whether I'll be hungry enough to power through a Hatch chile burger at Poodies by the time I get to Spicewood.
One week from today Brady Texas comes to life as we all gather to celebrate the common goat.
I'd love to hear from someone who's actually going to compete.
Hopefully the overload of goat I'm going to consume will wear off by the time I get to Spicewood so I can power through a big Hatch Chile burger from Poodies.