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Secret sauce of the barbecue illuminati
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Q: With summer here and the barbecue season soon to be in full swing, I have a question about a long-past local BBQ landmark. The old Blue Hole Bar-B-Que on Kingshighway had the best barbecue around. I remember many wonderful meals there, both inside and outside under the canopy in the car with the top down. Now that the Blue Hole is gone, you can no longer find their "Blue Hole Gardens Bar-B-Que Sauce." It was the best. I have heard that there is a recipe floating around for the sauce, and even a secret group of BBQ fans devoted to keeping the Blue Hole alive through this recipe. Can you help us find this Holy Grail of recipes? The BBQ fires of summer will soon be lit! -- Roger Allgood, Cape Girardeau.
A: I, too, have fond memories of the old Blue Hole on Kingshighway, although I would not be so bold as to label any single sauce the best ever. But I understand your passion. As it turns out, you're right. There is a secret group that is keeping the Blue Hole recipe alive. Lizbe Knote, whose mother, Ruth, is a judge for some of the United States' most elite barbecue competitions, including Memphis in May and the American Royal Barbecue Contest, told me that they identified the sauce eating barbecue one day. This tidbit of information led to several twists and turns, and several people who would not speak on the record. The recipe, it turns out, was sold to a man in Blytheville, Ark., who produces sauces but chose not to market this particular one. So, folks who make it here can't sell it, but they can provide it to friends and make it for themselves. Thus, it continues to live on, quietly, among this barbecue illuminati.
Q: There is a lot of patchwork being done on Interstate 55 between Cape Girardeau and St. Louis. Is this going to be smoothed sometime in the future? I make the trip often for business and hope it won't be left this way.
A: "We will be diamond grinding these areas in the future," said Stan Johnson, area engineer for the Missouri Department of Transporation. This process takes irregularities out of the surface by cutting tiny grooves in the pavement.
"The contract has been let, and they'll be working on it this summer and next. The completion date is December 2006. MoDOT is doing the prep work now in advance of the contractor," Johnson said. "All of this is part of the Amendment 3 smooth roads initiative. Along with the road pavement, the contractor will repair some of the shoulders at the same time."
According to Johnson, quite a bit of the highway is being improved. The southbound and northbound lanes will receive diamond grinding from the Jefferson County line to the Fruitland interchange exit.
"Then from Fruitland to Scott City there will be an asphalt overlay, and then diamond grinding again from Scott City all the way to New Madrid," he said.
Out of curiosity, I did a little research about diamond grinding and learned that the name comes from the diamond saw blades used in cutting grooves in the hardened concrete. A photo of a road treated by this process reminded me of a well-raked golf bunker. According to a recent study, there are several advantages to this process, which costs less than an overlay, and is touted for making drives smoother and safer.
Jon K. Rust is publisher of the Southeast Missourian. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.