It’s no secret that I love barbecue. It’s the result of living in two regions — Kansas City and Texas — with celebrated ‘cue cultures. To say I was excited about visiting the Safeway Barbecue Battle on Sunday would be an understatement.

The organizers of the event sent me two tickets in the mail. Had I paid for them, like almost everyone else at this outdoor meat fest, they would have cost me $10 each. I used one and went solo to the massive event, which stretched five blocks along Pennsylvania Avenue NW. I didn’t bring much money with me and, since I had lost my check card recently, didn’t have access to any cash from the portable ATMs on site.

I almost starved to death.

I have to admit that I was startled by the fact that my ticket got me next to nothing to eat. I had, perhaps foolishly, expected that the contestants in the barbecue battle would be, at the very least, offering samples to the public. That was not the case — at least when I was there on Sunday afternoon. Most of the samples available were products that Safeway, the sponsor, was pimping.

Regardless, I decided early on that I was not going to pay Famous Dave’s or Old Glory any money for their crappy barbecue. I was going to eat freebies only — or I wasn’t going to eat at all. I wasn’t here for the music, after all. I was here to eat.

Here’s what I ate:

  1. A sample of Rancher’s Reserve flatiron steak (Safeway tie-in)
  2. A sample of dry-rubbed pork loin (Safeway tie-in)
  3. A piece of bread slathered in Stubb’s barbecue sauce
  4. A two-bite chopped brisket sandwich and two slivers of sausage, courtesy of Stubb’s Feed the World campaign (nice peppery kick in the sausage)
  5. A small plastic cup of diced watermelon (not much sweetness)
  6. A small plastic cup of Gold Peak lemon-flavored tea (very sweet)
  7. A piece of bread dusted with Todd’s Dirt (which tastes of oregano and garlic and something sweet)
  8. A sample of the “orange whirl” SunnyD smoothie (which tastes like a liquid orange creamsicle)
  9. A Luna bar with lemon zest
  10. A small bag of sliced red apples

I opted not to stand in the long, long cattle line at the Safeway Sampling Pavilion. I had no desire to wait 30 minutes for a bite of Perdue chicken, Oscar Mayer weiners, or Lay’s potato chips.

So by the time I left the event, I had eaten exactly one small sample of barbecue, thanks to Stubb’s generosity. I’m sorry but Luna bars and sliced apples do not make a barbecue battle.