ManBque: An Anthropological Analysis of an Urban Mens Movement
Posted by cmh gourmand on April 25, 2013
A few months ago I was invited to ManBQue. A what the what? Man – B – Que. Simply put this is a gathering of men who want to celebrate and extol three things: Meat, Beer and Rock n Roll. This month I was invited again by Chef Ed Kowalski. I looked at the ManBque website, read his pitch and decided I may have to give this a shot. I have sampled Ed’s culinary work in several places over the last couple years so I knew I would eat well. And, I was honored, this was an invitation only event. I was uniquely qualified for invitation because I am a man.
A few disclaimers and notations before I begin. Most of my friends are women. The few male friends I have, while valued, would, like me, never be accused of being high-test, testosterone manly men. I can’t speak for them but for most men of the Midwest I must be an absolute conundrum. Well, a manly man would not use that word, he would probably just grunt or something. I just never fit in with roaming herds of males. What are some of my failings: OSU Buckeyes….who cares, sports – meh, cars and muscle machines – I drive a Subaru, playing lots of blood and guts video games – nope. Sporting a ball cap, driving a pick up truck, while wearing jhorts and engaging with other dudes in horse-play….is not something I can pull off. I never adapted to being in the pack. I dropped out of Indian Guides because it was too structured. I did a Fraternity rush my junior year of college and just could not drink the Kool-aid. The only man based group I have ever been associated with on a long-term basis is called Nerd Night which involves watching TV and eating pizza with a female librarian. There is one exception to this long history of lack of manliness. You might call this a fling. For two years I was a member of the Loyal Order of the Moose. I joined so I could eat a really good $2 hamburger and play pinball during lunch time and then walk back to work in two minutes. I was often the only one there. Now don’t get me wrong, I like the ladies but I don’t hang out at the Stitch and Bitch classes or watch Grey’s Anatomy. I have never been one to run with the herd. Usually, I just saunter off in the other direction and do my own thing. The only really macho thing I can say about myself is that I am an Appalachian Porch Hound Trainer.
So as cool as it may seem to gather as a tribe and worship Meat, Beer and Rock N Roll, three things that rank high on my hierarchy of needs, it is not by my nature to do so in an organized pack. But, because I care about my readers and I have a mission to explore the world of culinary trends I was resolute to investigate the ManBque meat up which is quickly becoming a world-wide thing. On the plus side of going, the April Manbque was at Savor which is close to my house and would ensure quick access to good beer. I also knew than Rin, the Beer Knowledge Goddess of Savor would smack down any out of control mantics (man-antics) and made sure I had someone to talk to in a pinch.
I approached the location with caution. After parking, I heard the music of Bob Marley wailing through the air. I could smell smoke….of charring meat and cigars….. floating through the air. I followed these sensory clues to the back lot of Savor to find one green egg, three grills, 2 large speakers and twenty plus males from 22 to 62 engaged in grilling, eating, drinking, smoking and laughing. After taking a few more whiffs of the meats being cooked, I knew I was in the right place and my sense was I made the right choice.
Rob the vice-president of the Columbus Manbque cell, seeing I was a newbie, greeted me and showed me where the communal beer cooler was. I tracked down Ed inside Savor buying more beer. I mingled among the members and listened in on some of their conversations. I asked a lot of questions. While this is a very fraternal group it is not a fraternity-style group…well probably not, I was told there is not any hazing or odd rituals. Members do not need to wear weird hats like in the Flintstones (I was bummed about this). The most common thread I found among each of these guys was a passion to eat meat that is cooked really, really well. After Ed was done preparing some exceptional bone marrow, he as both my host and the president of the Columbus chapter of Manbque explained more about the group both locally and nationally. Each month members bring meat to cook and share with the group as well as beer to do the same. Among the feast of meats I dined on: bone marrow, pork loin, bacon wrapped chicken breast, bacon wrapped shrimp, and several cuts of marinated and seasoned beef cooked to perfection.
ManBque started in Chicago and has since expanded throughout the USA and abroad. More than just a manly meet-up, the group hallows the holy trinity of cooking meat, drinking craft beer and celebrating great rock n roll pretty seriously. Each of these three elements are respected for the skill of art and science it takes to craft them. The growth of these local ManBque groups has been expansive and is expected to become exponential after the release of a cookbook in the near future. While “no girls are allowed” this is not a he-man woman haters club. Locally there will be a mixed group meeting in June. In Chicago – there is an all female group with the same goals who have engaged in a competitive but friendly rivalry with their male counterparts. In Columbus, as the group continues to grow, Ed and company want to add in classes, special events and serve charitable causes too.
There are a few rules to the group. New members must be invited by a current member. Meat-ups occur during the week, not on weekends. At the end of the evening (this is where I started to worry about the hazing part) new members are given their ManBque name while the group stands in a circle. I think there may be something to this ManBque thing. I had to cut out early, so I did not get issued my official ManBque name but…I would go back, to the pack, to do so.
Interested in membership? Contact Ed: firstname.lastname@example.org