Kissing Cousin Pete and Sausage Parties: A Guide to My Ultimate Summer Cookout

Yesterday was my birthday, and you must know that while I’m typing this, I am not quite hungover, but there’s a little bit of the party hovering in my brain. No worries.

Yes, I went to “the club” last night, and had a blast. But before that I was outside, with old friends and complete strangers, having the best time ever.

Cooking outdoors with loved ones is one of my favorite things to do. As a younger girl, I was quite the little chubbster, so the food was my main attraction. Sure, getting fawned over by family and having a few dollars pressed into my little hands by generous Uncles and Aunts always put a smile on my face. But there was just something about those burgers on the grill, yo…

A few guy friends in college tried to prove to me they could BBQ. Burnt on the outside, pink on the inside. Not a good look for chicken parts. We got grilled food often at U of I, but it wasn’t really the type that warrants you to smack your mother.

Epic food gets Mom slapped, right? Epic Cookouts aka Barbecues are few and far between in my life. I’ve been searching for one all Summer. And I found my first one yesterday.

Nestled on the South Side of Lake Michigan, on 55th Street in Chicago, is a place lovingly known as “The Point”. If you’ve never been there, I will refer you to the classic Common video, “I Used To love H.E.R.”, set in my city.

Many of the outdoor shots, and most certainly the ones by water and huge rocks, are shot at the Point. Many classic Chicago artists earned their hip hop stripes at the Point; learning how to cypher, how to battle, how to breakdance, and how to interact with other like-minded creative individuals. Myself included.

These days, I wish the youngins had a place like that to hone their skills and play. They could really benefit from it.

By the early 2000′s, the Point was no longer as frequented by heads trying to get their hip hop fix. But the Point will always remain a soft-spot for people from Chicago like myself. And yesterday, a childhood friend (@DonPhenom) held his 7th annual “Friends and Family” BBQ there. Where have I been the previous 6 years? Ha ha…

I hadn’t been to the Point in so many years, and as soon as I walked up I knew this is exactly what I’d been craving. There was plenty of drink, plenty of deliciously-prepared BBQ, Black people peacefully enjoying themselves, great music, and old friends. And when we pulled the foil back on the pan of macaroni and cheese? Sighs of relief and satisfaction for the yummy side dish. These are the times we cherish.

I am pleased that I reconnected with friends I hadn’t seen in years, talked to a few fans who spotted me in my pretty Birthday dress, ate deliciously smoked and charred meats, got rolled up on by the Chicago Police, emerged unscathed, and exchanged at least 75 hugs.

There is a feeling at these types of events that is almost unexplainable. It is grateful, it is loving, and even if you don’t share a bloodline with the folks hosting, you feel like family. And if you act like family, that’s what you’ll be.

So, I implore all of you to get to a REAL cookout this year. One where you trust all the side dishes, there is at least one drunk Uncle, there is at least 5 people sneaking off to do God knows what, there are at least a dozen bad ass kids running around with kool-aid smiles, some tasty beverages, even better grilled meats, and maybe even a little Psalm One on the playlist.

Bon Appetit!

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