In the course of my job, it is often required of me to attend various press conferences and company meetings, briefings and updates. It’s just part of the gig. I’m not going to lie, it’s not my favorite part of the job.
I much prefer to be out “in the field” so to speak — shooting pictures of local festivals, civic gatherings and kids playing baseball is way more fun than listening to some CEO blather on and on about how awesome his company is.
As soon as I know about an upcoming conference, I typically employ evasive actions to try and get out of it — actions that our general manager Christine Wyatt can now spot a mile away.
My excuses, I’ve found, don’t work so well anymore. To make matters worse, after nearly two years working together, Chris has discovered my secret weakness, my soft spot, the chink in my otherwise impenetrable armor, my Kryptonite: If there’s a free lunch, I’m there, camera and notebook in hand.
At one of those aforementioned dreaded conferences I attended last week, things took an unexpected turn. It turned out not to be a boring meeting and was instead informative, often funny and in general, just a pleasant afternoon. I believe one of the key reasons it didn’t suck was because rather than the speaker taking to the podium and droning on for an hour listing the accomplishments of their business, it was very informal — more like a gathering of friends.
That is, until the introductory period …
Everyone in the room was asked to say their name, where they worked and then to tell everyone else in the room what their favorite part of living in the Upstate was.
I dislike speaking in public, no matter how casual the setting, and well, my dirty little secret is that (gasp!) I’m actually not very fond of living in South Carolina. Not that I was about to admit that to a room full of people. It’s not a prejudice, it’s more homesickness. As friendly as the people are and as beautiful as the landscape is here, I miss Michigan.
Anyway, everyone at the meeting was giving the same answers: the people and the mountains. I was no different. I mumbled something about having started a family here and quickly gestured for the next person to go. But I was wrong, there is something I absolutely love about living in South Carolina: the food.
I have always loved food and I thought I knew what good food tasted like. But it wasn’t until I moved South that I gained a whole new appreciation for the culinary wonders you Southerners seem to be able to whip up at the drop of a hat.
Man, you guys know how to prepare a meal.
Where I come from, chicken is baked, not fried; biscuits come in a can; nobody knows what the hell to do with a pecan and macaroni and cheese is prepared by simply boiling the box of noodles and then stirring in the little enclosed package of orange dust — just like Mom used to make! Good luck finding grits North of the Mason Dixon line. I don’t think they exist.
The food down here is just amazing and I just can’t get enough of it.
There are a few staples from home that I stubbornly hang onto though: I still prefer my tea unsweetened, I’ll take an English muffin over a biscuit any day and I alternate between buying Miracle Whip or mayonnaise depending on what’s on sale, largely because I can’t taste the difference.
But other things, like cooking ham in with the green beans? Oh my goodness. I will break traditional Jewish dietary laws every single time over those. Bacon in the baked beans and a slow-cooked rack of ribs are also serious tests to my (lack of) willpower when it comes to keeping kosher.
Let’s just say it’s a good thing Jews don’t believe in Hell because if we did, I’m fairly certain I would be on my way, pulled-pork sandwich in hand and shouting to the heavens: It was worth it!
Kasie Strickland is a staff writer for The Easley Progress and The Pickens Sentinel and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Views expressed in this column are those of the writer only and do not represent the newspaper’s opinion.