“I don’t know why men like to barbecue so much.
Maybe its the only thing they can cook.
Or maybe they’re just closet pyromaniacs.”
Whether or not the dubious and persistent stereotype about men and their grills has any veracity is a topic oft debated. It’s been discussed anecdotally and it’s been analyzed scientifically. In a 2010 article for Forbes, Meghan Casserly explained why men love grilling: “Grilling is sort of dangerous (there’s fire!), it lets dudes hang out together while also providing some sort of neutral entertainment (getting to watch one guy do stuff and possibly also criticizing him while he does it), and requires minimal cleaning (self-explanatory).”
In his 1993 essay “Why Do Men Barbecue?,” an article more about gender roles than about meat, anthropologist Richard Shweder expounded on the origins of male and female spaces in different cultures. He posited that contemporary men and women throughout urban America don’t consider themselves tied to traditional gender roles. So, where the men among our troglodytic ancestors brought home the mastadon for women to prepare (and bring them a beer or six), today’s men are just as likely to prepare the daily bread with women just as likely being the providers.
Don’t ever tell Manuel Gonzales that men can’t cook. For about three decades family and friends fortunate enough to partake of his barbecued bounty have lavished praise on his formidable culinary skills. For years they’ve encouraged him to share his barbecue with the world, to take his talents to the streets–literally. In January, 2020, he did just that, launching Steam Q, a mobile kitchen (that’s food truck to you, Bob) that began to hit the mean streets of Albuquerque on weekends when Manuel wasn’t toiling at his place of employment.
Lest the name Steam Q conjures up visions of soggy, mushy meats, “Steam” is an acronym for “Slap (or Smoke) Them Extremely Awesome Ribs.” Manuel slaps the extremely awesome baby back ribs with a dry rub he concocted before smoking them low-and-slow over oak and mesquite. The combination of those woods creates an enticing aroma which will have your mouth watering the second that aroma hits your nostrils. He applies a strawberry glaze that imparts sweet (but not overly sweet) and spicy notes that render the ribs addictively, vegan-converting delicious. These are some of the very best baby back ribs we’ve had in the Land of Enchantment. These are not “fall off the bone” ribs, an indication ribs are overdone. They’ve got just a little bit of “give” to them, signifying a perfect texture.
During better times (pre-confinement), Manuel offered a very competitive menu of delicious items no other mobile kitchen in town dared attempt. In a city where you can actually find several excellent to outstanding Philly cheesesteak sandwiches, Manuel has the most unique. Picture smoked brisket, green chile and “cheez” topped with a green chile coleslaw. Imagine a spicy smoked chicken sandwich with cheez. Visualize green chile smothered papitas with brisket, pulled pork or spicy chicken. Let your mind’s eye conjure up visions of drunken chicken reputedly so good its flavors are intoxicating. That’s what we have to look forward to when Steam Q hits the streets again.
In the meantime, if you’d like to order a full rack of those sumptuous strawberry-glazed baby back ribs, visit Steam Q’s Facebook page and message Manuel with your order. It’s a bargain–currently twenty dollars a rack–and Manuel will happily deliver them to your home (even to Rio Rancho where we live) for a pittance. Please make sure you frequent Steam Q’s Facebook page to find out about days and hours of service and events.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
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LATEST VISIT: 2 May 2020
# OF VISITS: 1
BEST BET: Strawberry Glazed Baby Back Ribs