Twenty-four hours ago, all I knew about barbecue was how it tasted when hot. Two hours ago, I had a memorable encounter with the best barbecue in the world, along with a history lesson that was already waiting to be discovered since we hit the road on Friday morning. Kansas City is the barbecue capital of the world! How this fact managed to elude most of the people we had spoken to before embarking on this trip I may never know, but every conversation since yesterday to folks has pointed only to one fact: if anything, the barbecue in Kansas City is a must-eat. I now know what they mean.

The barbecue tradition in Kansas City goes as far back as the 1900s and it is regarded as the “world’s barbeue capital”. According to Wikipedia the city has over 100 barbecue restaurants. Even the google search of the word “barbecue” will come up with Kansas City in the first four items. There’s even a Kansas City Barbecue Society. That’s serious! Now, of all the over a hundred places to have barbecue, the most famous one of them according to all asked is called “Oklahoma Joe’s”, written in the Men’s Health magazine in March 2010 as the #13 on the “13 places to eat before you die.” And that was where we went, of course. It is far better to have just twelve more places in the world to worry about.

Since Kansas City is the barbecue capital of the world, imagine eating at the best barbecue place in Kansas City. That’s what Oklahoma Joe’s is to those who know its reputation. From the outside though, it looks just like a little harmless restaurant in a gas station. We had actually been there last night without being able to find our way in because of the way it blended with the night. Today there was no such luck as the line that reached from outside to the front counter had up to seventy people and took almost thirty minutes to get us served. White, Black, Asian, Mexican and people of different looks and appearances queued up in the cold outside the restaurant to await their turn. It was almost like being in a line to get the autograph of a famous writer.

I’ve never been in a restaurant before that makes you wait that long. (Well, Mama Ope food canteen in Ibadan is the exception). But you know what they say: if you see a very long line of people outside a restaurant, it would most likely be good. Believe me when I say it was more than awesome culinary experience eating there. The real question is why people on the other side of the river didn’t know much about this, and the many more treasures it contains. And I’ve not even told you about the most amazing experience at the World War I Museum.

Well tomorrow, we return home, via Columbia.

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