Where there’s smoke, there’s . . . Brisket?

The morning of July 4, a weak cool front blew through. Around three AM, I woke enough to notice the wind change, and decided to open my window to let the cool air in. That’s nice, I thought, and went back to sleep.

At 0500 I woke bolt awake, thinking Oh scheiße, grassfire! I could smell burning mesquite and something sweet blowing in the open window. I was half-dressed before I finished waking up enough to realize that the smell, and smoke, weren’t thick enough for a major fire, and the phone tree hadn’t lit up with evacuation warnings yet. So I went back to the window and sniffed a little more carefully. Now almost fully awake, I could detect the strong undertone of brisket and ribs along with the mesquite and sweetness. You guessed it. Someone a block over and one block upwind had gone out to shift the meat and add fuel to his smoker. (It’s a competition-sized rig. I’ve seen it when I’ve been out walking.)

You can quit laughing now. Really. Just stop that. I’ve woken up to the stench of fires before, both structural fires and brush and grass fires, some planned, some raging out of control and driving everything before them. You don’t mess around when you smell smoke at dawn. Smelling brisket, however . . .

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