One really nice fall day last week, I was having a pulled pork sandwich on the patio area at our local Tex-mex restaurant. A yellowjacket stopped by, and spent a lot of time buzzing around, scoping out our food. They don't really bother me that much, though I've been stung before, but he seemed more persistent then average, and eventually landed on my sandwich. I figured he'd maybe lick of some of the barbecue sauce, and then leave us in peace. Instead, as I watched he began to use his mouth pinchers and forelegs to pull himself off a big (as in, about the size of his body) chunk of pork, and flew away with it!
It was really a suprising moment, I had no idea yellowjackets did that, or even that they were carnivorous, but apparently they can be:
Although adults feed primarily on items rich in sugars and carbohydrates (fruits, flower nectar and tree sap), the larvae feed on proteins (insects, meats, fish, etc.). Adult workers chew and condition the meat fed to the larvae. Larvae in return secrete a sugar material relished by the adults, an exchange of material known as trophallaxis.
Now didn't my blog make you feel smarter just then? I can't imagine there are larvae hanging out right now given the time of year, so if you ask me, this particular fellow has just caught on to the deliciousness that is barbeque. He might be a tailgater.
We were still talking about it when he came back...for seconds! He struggled with another more stubborn bit of pork that I was sure would soon have him rolling head over...wings onto the bun, but eventually got it loose and again departed.
By the time he came back for thirds, I was really wishing I had a camcorder or at least my camera. It was fascinating to watch, and though I don't speak yellowjacket, I know he was saying to himself, "Goddammit, that's some good barbecue!"
On the subject, my favorite barbecue places in the region are:
- Red Bones Barbeque: Davis Square, Sommerville MA. Meat in a bucket? We're there!
- KC's Rib Shack: Manchester, NH. Deep fried pickles and huuuuush puppies...and big squeeze-bottles full of different BBQ sauces.
- Firefly's Bar-B-Que: Framingham, MA. Phantom Gourmet favorite, with good reason.
- Rockin' Ribfest: Anheuser-Busch Brewry, Merrimack, NH. There's never enough time or stomach real estate to sample everything I'd like to, but it's a great summertime event.
- Longhorn Steakhouse: all over the place. Not barbeque per se, but I love the ribs there!