15 years ago, Fast Company dubbed Memphis the capital of the real world. At the time the article was published, Memphis was on no one’s list of cool places, and I thought it was uplifting that my favorite magazine gave my hometown a brief and positive nod.
The idea of Memphis as the source of ultimate reality has lingered with me. Memphis is, in fact, an incredibly real place with real people, real drama, and real stuff. For all that substance, however, the quest to label the city’s identity continues.
In the early 1980s a group of civic leaders formed a non-profit called Memphians for Economic Growth (association), which later became Goals for Memphis, which later became the Leadership Academy, which is now known as The New Memphis Institute. I know it started as MEGA because my mother served, for a brief time, as its executive director. First order of business was creating a marketing campaign, and the whiz kids who proclaimed “Virginia is for Lovers” gave us “Start Something Great in Memphis,” acknowledging the city’s notable entrepreneurs. The slogan lasted about 15 minutes, a shorter life-span than even the ever-changing corporate name of the organization that sponsored its creation.
Despite decades of investment, brand research, economic development focus groups, and the like, Memphis still has a public identity crisis, marked by ongoing suburban withdrawal and competing marketing slogans, backed by earnest do-gooders who seek a brighter future that is anchored in a firm sense of self – if only they could put a name to it.
All of which is funny to me, because, 15 years later, I think Fast Company nailed it: we are the capital of the real world. And relative to my very real dinner planning, Memphis may be the un-heralded capital of farm-to-table eating, a place where real food can be grown year-round, with real water that isn’t diverted from the Colorado River, prepared by real cooks in home kitchens and fancy restaurants alike, for our very real enjoyment.
Eat something great in Memphis, and happy week.
Week of September 17| 2013
|Black Bean Chili | Jalapeno CornbreadDeborah Madison’s black bean chili recipe is my favorite of all, although I sometimes cheat and used canned black beans (and probably will this week). If time allows, then I’ll make Ina Garten’s jalapeno cheddar cornbread to go with. Otherwise, as you already probably know, I’ll make Jiffy. And maybe a green salad with some buttermilk dressing.|
|Chicken | Wild Rice Blend | Buttermilk Cabbage SlawI have been looking for some new chicken recipes, and may try this one for the slow cooker. Our go-to recipe, however, is Ina’s Grilled Lemon Chicken, which is as reliable as Ivory soap. We’ll serve with Lundberg’s wild rice blend (highly recommend) and a chopped slaw made of green cabbage, toasted corn, bacon and buttermilk dressing (thanks, Mel!).|
|Grilled Fish | Niçoise PlatterWe have a bushel of freshly dug potatoes sitting on a step in our basement, and they are truly delicious. I like to roast them with a bit of olive oil and kosher salt then serve warm/room temp on a platter with French green beans, grilled fish (I may use cod instead of tuna, since our kids like cod), lemon wedges and whole grain bread.|
|Sugared Bacon | Hash Browns | Eggs | Citrus SaladFor this week’s take on breakfast for dinner, I am delving into sugared bacon, which I love but have never made. This recipe is the one I’m going to try, though I’ll probably cook on a Silpat mat instead of foil. We’ll also make some fresh hash browns with said tub of fresh potatoes, dicing and cooking in a hot skillet with a great deal of butter. Scramble some eggs, toss some quartered citrus with mint in a bowl, and there’s dinner.|
|Brie & Apple SandwichesOdd as it may seem, everyone in our house loves brie. And apples. And sandwiches. Put it all together on some warm bread, and everyone’s happy. I don’t usually use a recipe, when in surfing for some ideas, I found this one from Sunset magazine that looks interesting – and different from how I usually make because of the apple butter. I will use French bread instead of rye because my people do not like rye bread.|