What does it mean to constantly innovate? How does it feel to put yourself in front of decisions that can make all the sense in the world to some people, but feel questionable to others?
In the restaurant business, innovation is the controversial balancing act of creating something that you’re proud of while meeting the expectations of the patrons who facilitate growth.
“Your cholesterol is high, so you need to go on a low-fat diet and we’ll check it again in a year.”
Like it or not (I didn’t like it), that’s exactly what the nurse who reviewed my recent lab work told me.
It was not the most specific advice, so it sent me to the Internet in a googling frenzy:
How to lower cholesterol
Foods that lower cholesterol
Does a diet of mostly flour tortillas and cheese cause high cholesterol?
4 small sweet potatoes
5 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 1⁄2 tbsp superfine sugar
12 green onions, halved lengthwise and cut into 1 1⁄2 -in segments
1 red chile, thinly sliced
6 ripe figs, quartered
5 oz soft goat’s milk cheese
freshly ground black pepper
The center table at SouthBound Bagel and Coffee Shop is one of our favorite spots in all of Hattiesburg.
We love to savor a long drink of their strong, dark coffee and take in the view.
Located downtown at the corner of Front and Mobile Streets, the windowed dining room at SouthBound looks out at the train tracks and neighboring businesses.
Late October, 2006. Just more than a year after Hurricane Katrina, when storm refugees started to vacate the local hotels they’d called home for so many months, both sides of our sizable family gathered in Hattiesburg to celebrate our wedding.
Our wedding was casual – no need for a rehearsal. Not the kind to miss an opportunity for a big meal, we went ahead and had a rehearsal dinner anyway.
Folks traveled from as close as the Delta and as far away as Seattle, and they were hungry.
We have a huge extended family. Between the two of us, we have four living parents and step-parents, eight siblings (including in-laws), upwards of 25 aunts and uncles (NOT counting in-laws), and somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 first cousins. We have never been able to make an exact count.
We came into our marriage with the understanding that we’d try to learn the names of all the great aunts, but probably fail, and that Thanksgiving dinner would always have a guest list of at least 30.
Every family has its own version of a “celebration” meal. Be it a special birthday meal, turkey with all the trimmings at Thanksgiving or grilled burgers on the Fourth of July. We all have foods that mark special occasions.
In our family? Nothing says “party time” like cheese.
Our family table overflows with as many cheeses as we can find – a peppery salami, fruits, olives, jams, breads and crackers. There’s barely room for wine glasses, but somehow we manage.
Did you eat yet? Every Southerner knows that the answer to this question really isn’t important. You are about to be given food – and a drink – no matter what you say.
Whether it’s a slice of pound cake and a frosty glass of sweet tea enjoyed on the porch, a dizzying array of leftovers on your grandma’s kitchen table, or – if you are really lucky – a homegrown tomato sandwich so juicy you eat it standing over the sink, nothing says “Welcome” in the South like food.
One of the great ironies of working in the food industry is that you rarely get to eat in a restaurant. You work when other people are eating, and eat when other people are sleeping.
On your days off, you relish the chance to cook something for yourself, if you have the energy. If not, takeout is the name of the game. Sit-down meals in restaurants are few and far between. Sit-down meals in restaurants with your spouse are even more rare.
In the two decades we have lived and cooked in Hattiesburg, we have learned this to be true – Hattiesburgers love to eat. Whether making a mad dash to get to the Downtown Farmer’s Market before all the choice tomatoes are sold, debating where to get the best shrimp po-boy, or indulging in our love of any and all things topped with Creole cream sauce, we come alive around food.