FOOD: House Of Cards, Morgan’s Brooklyn Barbecue, and Love For “Freddy”

WARNING: There isn’t really a spoiler ahead, but if you want to read absolutely nothing about “House Of Cards” Season 2 before watching it all, proceed with caution. I promise I was kinder than an Underwood, though.

Morgan's BBQ Ribs -

Morgan’s Brooklyn Barbecue Pork Ribs

If you’re like me, then last weekend was both a test of strength and a measure of weakness, as Netflix dropped all the episodes of “House Of Cards” Season 2 in one day, and that day was Valentine’s Day. Which meant February 14th was spent hiding wistful glances at the TV from my boyfriend (just kidding!), and February 15th was offered up to my couch for 11 hours straight of Kevin Spacey’s sweet southern drawl, which I enjoyed as well as I enjoy a pile of kittens purring in my ear.

Another thing I love about Spacey’s character, Frank Underwood? The man appreciates his barbecue. One of my favorite bits in the first season is Frank’s relationship with Freddy Armstrong, the owner of a local rib joint, Freddy’s BBQ. Freddy often opens his shop early so Frank can savor his ‘cue in peace, and while the show’s main character is brutal –  “ruthless pragmaticism,” he calls it – it’s the scenes with Freddy that soften Frank Underwood to me, if only for a moment.

Maybe it’s because, after working years in the restaurant industry, I get the way they connect. It’s a little superficial (the dialogue is always delicious, though), but they can also count on one another, and, like a good regular bringing in important clients to lunch, Frank taps Freddy and his stellar ‘cue for some major political events in both seasons. The Underwoods are well aware of how a juicy rib and Freddy’s easy charisma can disarm their guests, make them seem approachable and charm the pants off whomever they need.

So I was pleased to see that Freddy’s plays a much bigger part in the series this season as Frank gets deeper into his schemes. No spoilers here (OK POSSIBLE SPOILER SO HEADS UP), but one thing is clear: you do not get between a man and his barbecue ribs. Frank Underwood is not a character one should feel comfortable sympathizing with, but Francis: I really get you on this one. Take, for instance, the ribs at Morgan’s, in Prospect Heights. A lot of the time, brisket’s the name of the game, but it was the pork ribs at Morgan’s that really stuck with me, and made me very aware of my companions’ greedy hands as we neared the end of our pile one night. These are my “Freddy’s” ribs – juicy, addictive, incomprehensibly good, and a solid choice just about any time.

Now, there’s a lot of fantastic barbecue being served in the city these days, but I might make a deal with the devil for these ribs in particular (though Blue Smoke, you’ve always got me for mac and cheese), and woe to anyone who might stand in the way of this girl’s slow-cooked ambitions.

Morgan's BBQ Ribs -

 Morgan’s Brooklyn Barbecue

With this in mind, if there’s nothing else redeeming about Frank Underwood, at least I get the sense that he’d do anything for his beloved ribs, and for his friend, Freddy. A lot of Frank’s reactions are devoid of sentiment, but the plot with Freddy is one of the only times we see him emotionally compromised. It’s interesting to think about the emotional attachments we get to certain foods, or restaurants, or the people behind them. “House Of Cards” recognizes this, and, like the series’ protagonist, uses that to its advantage over viewers. I’m glad my own rib joint doesn’t come with a side of political controversy, though – I’d like to keep my transgressions limited to swatting pals’ hands away, and maybe getting just a little heavy-handed with the sauce.