Rave Recipes is a Festival Advisor series wherein the wild and wonderful Brittany Gaston recounts insane stories from her time on the dance floor (sometimes other people's memories, too), and pairs them with delectable dishes and easy-to-follow instructions. Chock full of flavor and always entertaining, Rave Recipes brings the party to your kitchen.
The names in this story have been changed for the individuals' privacy.
Jimmy was known in the local nightlife scene as one of the resident drug dealers. Neither of us are each other’s type, which I presume is how he and I have maintained a completely platonic friendship. We started as acquaintances attending the same parties and over time, our mutual love of food, weed, and sarcastic banter made us closer. It became our tradition to get really stoned and eat some great food around the city.
On one particular outing in 2011, I picked Jimmy up in Daisy Bomboclaat, the name of my yellow VW New Beetle, because she was perfect for hotboxing. The blunt was sparked before he put his seatbelt on, and I was high before the blunt was half gone. Once we arrived at the barbeque restaurant du jour, we smoked the rest of the blunt in the parking lot.
When we finally opened Daisy Bomboclaat’s doors, billows of smoke escaped our THC thunderdome, wafting into the smell coming from the smokehouse. A fluffy, older black guy in a tracksuit walked by and shouted, “GOTDAMN! Y’all got dat gas, huh?!”
We ordered the sampler of appetizers which included smoked chicken nachos, potato skins, smokehouse wings, and chicken fingers served with a host of condiments. For our main dish, we both ordered the combination platter, a tasty selection of brisket, ribs, pulled pork, barbecue chicken and two sides. We ordered the macaroni and cheese and collards, but the fried okra and fried squash were extra add-ons we couldn't pass up. Before admitting to each other that there was no way we could finish everything, Jimmy received a phone call and took it outside.
“Soo, uh…” he had an odd grimace on his face when he came back to the table. “So that was Tiffany. She just started a shift down the street from here and asked if I could swing by and drop off some stuff to help out her and the other girls.” Tiffany was a dancer at one of the seedier strip clubs and “dropping off stuff for the girls” meant delivering cocaine to the dancers.
The strip club really was around the corner from the restaurant. In fact, it was on the same street less than a mile southbound. We’d only have to make two turns to get there. He asked if I minded dropping him off there. He’d figure out a ride home.
Logistically, his plan made sense, but we were living in pre-Uber times. The taxi fare back to his place would cancel out any money he would’ve made, thus making the trip to the strip club redundant. I naively offered to wait for him at the club to finish his business then take him back home, like we had originally planned.
We arrived around dusk, which is arguably the worst time to be at a strip club due to the lull before the dinner and late night rushes. I wanted to stay in the car, but Daisy Bomboclaat was the only car in the front lot. She wasn’t built to be inconspicuous.
Just outside the club doors, a bouncer much too large for the stool he sat on looked up from his magazine to greet us. He let us in without checking IDs. Inside was just as tragic as the empty parking lot, with the exception of a few dancers working doubles and biding time until they had customers.
Jimmy walked towards the back room to do his business, and I went to find the bathroom. While I was in the stall, I overheard a conversation between two dancers about how one of them is following in her mother’s footsteps by being pregnant and still working in the club before starting to show. The other dancer wanted to know how she planned to work after giving birth because of the stretch marks she’d get during pregnancy. I still think about these two a lot.
Back in the main room, I had to listen to a god-awful megamix of ‘80s hair bands, cheesy brostep remixes, and Kid Rock anthems before Jimmy exited the backroom and sat in the swivel chair adjacent to me. Tiffany and another dancer came out of the back seconds after Jimmy did and stood in between us.
“Thanks fo’ sharin’ Jimmy wit us,” Tiffany said in her raspy country accent. She points to the dancer she walked out with. “Iss all her fault - I dun tried to tell y’all to get yer stuff before comin’ to werk.”
“Yeahhh, it kinda was mah fault,” said the nameless dancer. Her country snarl was more high-pitched and had the same frequency as that of nails on a chalkboard. Her cocaine couth was nonexistent as she kept sniffling and wiping her dripping nose with the back of her hand. “But I wasn’t tha only one out of stuff neither - I was jus tha only bish tryna make somethin happ’n. Thas why I was axin’ e’r’body if dey had uh connect that would deliver here.”
I was appalled and became more disgusted each time she wiped away her snot. I locked eyes with Jimmy and gave him the “can we please get the fuck out of here” glare. He just laughed in schadenfreude.
I responded, using the same passive aggressive tone Starbucks employees give daft customers, “Oh wow, you manifested drugs, and here’s Jimmy and I not even an hour later. Aren’t you the luckiest girl in the world?”
“Oh my gawd, I know right?!” *sniff*
Her lack of self awareness irked me. She even remained unfazed the more sarcastic and bitchy I was to her, which also made Jimmy laugh in schadenfreude.
The nameless dancer pressed on, “Well Jim ‘n’ Tiff said yew was tha reasun he was able to help all us girls so quick ‘n’ I just wanna tell y’all it's greatly ‘ppreciated.” She sniffled again. “Wanna a free lap dance as a thank you?”
“Uhhh…” I tried to keep a straight face but Jimmy’s goofy cackle made that difficult. I panicked for a split second thinking of an appropriate reason to turn her down that wasn’t everything about your existence pains me.
I decided to flip the conversation and give Jimmy something to laugh about. “I’m good right now - but hey, what about Jimmy? He’s the one you should really give the lap dance to.“
She turned around to look at Jimmy, who’s laughter had suddenly stopped. I sneered in his direction.
“So wudduyah say Jim?” Nameless squealed on. “Wanna lap dance?” *sniff*
Jimmy chuckled when she asked the question again but cleared his throat right away hoping she wouldn’t notice. He leaned back in the swivel chair and, with his right hand, began rubbing his stomach counterclockwise, “Yeahhh.. I uhh...I really wish I could but uhh...I just ate.”
We weren’t even trying to hide our laughter at this point.
“Oh…well alrighty..” her voice dropped nearly an octave lower than before which made me think she was actually disappointed we turned down her snotty lap dance offer. Then I remembered she just did cocaine and was probably bored. I stood up from my chair to give Jimmy the cue it was time to go.
We were in hysterics once we were safely inside Daisy Bomboclaat, cry-laughing at the whole scenario. He told me the horrid details of what he saw in the back room of the strip club, and I told him about the pregnancy stretch mark conversation I overheard in the bathroom.
That was the first and last time I gave someone a ride to sell drugs at a strip club; it made me realize no good coke deed goes unpunished.
In the South, delicious home-made barbecue is a time-honored tradition, and in many Black kitchens, it’s not uncommon for recipes to be passed down orally and without measurements.
This recipe is exactly that. It’s a hybrid of flavors and techniques from both sides of my family but it’s just a template. Test your inner Southern aunty by eyeballing the ingredients and adjust according to your family’s tastes. This takes some practice, but establishing which flavors you want to be dominant and which flavors will help add depth and/or balance for that profile, then you’re on your way to be a barbecue pitmaster.
Add this rub to pork shoulder, Boston butt, pork ribs, spare ribs, pork chops or pork loin. It works for beef, chicken, and even tofu.
Brittany’s BBQ Rub
Makes enough to cover a 6 lb cut
Bold coffee beans (coarse ground for French press)
¼ cup Brown sugar
2 Tablespoons White sugar
2 teaspoons Lawry's Seasoned salt
1 Tablespoon Garlic powder
1 Tablespoon Onion flakes
1 ½ Tablespoons Cumin
1 Tablespoon Smoked paprika
2 teaspoons Onion powder
2 teaspoons Chili powder
2 teaspoons Ground mustard
1 teaspoon Coriander
1 teaspoon Red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon Dried Sage
½ teaspoon Nutmeg
1 teaspoon Ancho chili pepper
½ teaspoon Turmeric
Kosher salt or sea salt to taste
Obscene amounts of fresh cracked black pepper
Cooking oil optional
Brittany’s BBQ Sauce
2 cups Ketchup
¼ cup French pressed coffee
¼ cup Apple cider vinegar
2 T Stone ground or Dijon Mustard
2-3 Tablespoons Molasses
¼ cup Brown sugar
2 Tablespoons Sugar
2 Tablespoons Honey
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
5 Cloves of Garlic minced
1 teaspoon Smoked Paprika
2 teaspoons Garlic powder
2 teaspoons Onion powder
1-2 teaspoons Red Pepper flakes
½ teaspoon Cayenne pepper
Sriracha hot chili sauce (to taste)
Fresh cracked black pepper
Seasoned salt or Kosher salt if needed
Start by making the coffee. Fill a 34 FL oz French press with coarse ground coffee beans until they are approximately 1 ½ inches from the base.
Pour 1 ½ cups of boiling water over the coffee grounds, stir with a spoon then let sit for 10 minutes.
In the meantime, combine the remaining rub ingredients except the cooking oil in a medium mixing bowl.
Next, use the press’ lid down to strain the coffee then pour the brew in a measuring cup and set aside for the barbecue sauce. Remove the lid and spoon the grinds to the rub mixture and combine. It should look and smell like a coffee paste.
Drizzle the cooking oil into the rub mixture and mix until it’s a consistency that's right for you - omit this step if you want a dry rub.
Slather your protein with the rub, don’t be afraid to get sexual and massage the rub into your protein’s crevices. I suggest using disposable gloves.
Once your protein is completely smothered and rubbed, let it rest in the refrigerator for 24 hours, ideally. The larger the cut of meat, the longer it should rest. If you don’t have the time, an hour rest for thin sliced proteins should suffice. This is an important step because the rub acts as a brine and marinade plus, it ensures all the flavors really permeate your protein.
Prepare your protein accordingly but PRO TIP: You’ll get an invite to the cook-out, if you prepare your protein over a charcoal grill or smoker and add moistened hickory, cherry, or apple wood chips to the embers.
While your protein is cooking, smoking, or baking, carve some time out to make the BBQ sauce.
And a tablespoon of butter or olive oil to a saucepan over medium low heat. Add the minced garlic and simmer for two minutes.
Add both sugars, molasses, and honey to the saucepan and stir occasionally until sugars granules have dissolved. Turn off the heat but keep the saucepan on the unit.
Continue adding the ketchup, apple cider vinegar, brewed coffee, mustard, worcestershire, and Sriracha. Stir until blended.
Add remaining ingredients. Adjust measurements of the sweet, tangy, and spicy ingredients according to how you like your sauce.