Am I the last person in Los Angeles to have visited Bigmista's Barbecue at the Atwater Farmers Market? Because I seem to have been the only customer last week not to realize that Bigmista's is best visited within a few minutes after the stand opens on a Sunday morning, or at least before you browse through the shaggy broccoli at South Central Farms and haggle over frozen goat chops with the organic meat dude. By the time I made it over to the barbecue stand, the ribs and brisket were gone, the pulled pork was finished, and there were only two slices of pig candy left.
Still, some pig candy is better than no pig candy at all, and the sweet, sugar-brushed slabs of double-smoked bacon were about as good as it gets, slightly crisp at the edges but melting away in a great rush of smoky juice. Neil Strawder, Bigmista himself, offered up a double handful of burnt ends, the charred crispy bits and sizzled fat trimmed off the brisket, the last hot link, a bit of sliced tri-tip and a chicken thigh. I got the last of the collards, I think, funky as hell in the old church dining hall tradition. If Bigmista could scrounge together a lunch this splendid from scrapings and bin-leavings, I can only marvel at the possibilities afforded by the food he actually means to sell.
Bigmista Barbecue: Sunday at the Atwater farmers market; Tues. at the Torrance farmers market; Thurs. at the El Segundo farmers market; Sat. at the Torrance farmers market. Menus, hours and preordering information available on their website.