Disappointment compounding on disappointment:  Not only is the world’s largest, oldest cured ham off limits on Mondays BUT the Bob’s Big Boys in the rest stops along I-95 in Maryland no longer have breakfast buffets –  they’ve restructured the rest stop to make room for some bullshit seafood restaurant, like we’re all stopping at the Maryland House to refill the tank, take a shit and grab some nice dover sole with rice pilaf.

Where are my powdered eggs? My biscuits with chipped beef in gravy? My unlimited bacon? My scrapple, that I don’t actually eat but find endlessly fascinating?  I DEMAND ALL THE FRENCH TOAST STICKS I CAN EAT.

Goddamn it.

Misspelling, or little-known Pittsburgh-style barbeque?

We tried to salvage the day by stopping at Pierce’s BBQ, at exit 234 off I-64 in the vicinity of Williamsburg, Virginia, which had been recommended by my sister as a worthwhile stop.  Despite her love of Cheese Waffles and her refusal to allow anything other than bread, onion and celery in her Thanksgiving stuffing, I trust her.  My faith was affirmed when we pulled into Pierce’s parking lot and found our car overshadowed by two enormous smokehouses, the air suffused with the smell of smoking pork.  Sweet, sweet smoking pork.

This should not have been the start of yet more disappointment. Le sigh.

To my mind, a good ‘cue joint should have tasty pork butt and tasty ribs, so I went with the half-rack while Brian got the pulled pork plate.  If your pulled pork is good but your ribs are middling, you merely disappoint me.  But if your pulled pork is good but your ribs suck?  FAIL.  So it is with much sadness that I must say to Pierce’s: FAIL.  The ribs had to be sawed apart with a knife, and had no smoke ring to speak of – it looked and tasted like they’d been boiled or braised and had never so much been in the vicinity of a smoker.  The sauce was some kind of vinegar-tomato hybrid, and managed to completely mask the best of both those not-mild ingredients.

And then? I got really sick to my stomach. INDIGNITY UPON INDIGNITY.  Just pour that salt into my wound, Pierce’s.  Would you like some lemons as well?

Not enough to save it.

The pulled pork, on the other hand, was excellent.  Meltingly tender, good and smoky, doused in a tangy spicy vinegar sauce, and with a good mix of pig parts – chunks of meat, finer shreds, and bits of the crackly skin and fat.  The hushpuppies, despite being oddly finger-shaped, had a nice corn flavor with a bit of onion; the fries were forgettable, but you don’t go to a pit BBQ joint for the fries.  The pulled pork is good enough that it really does make me sad to have to give Pierce’s an overall FAIL.

Do you follow proper procedure?

You’ve gotta wash your hands well after BBQ, even shitty BBQ, so it was helpful to have this detailed, illustrated guide to proper handwashing procedure.  I don’t know if others find this as amusing as I do; certainly, the other denizens of the Pierce’s ladies’ room did not think so, and looked at me as though I was on a photo reconaissance mission and would be bringing photos of the bathroom back to my al-Qaeda cell.  I post it here as a reminder not to neglect the backs of your hands when washing, and to carry a thermometer with you to ensure adequate minimum water temperature.

You’re welcome.