Category Archives: What’s Going On

Can You Believe It’s Thanksgiving?

Happy Foodie Friday. I usually post the Thanksgiving Foodie Friday screed on the Wednesday before the holiday but it’s really the only food topic on my mind today. I’ve also made it a habit to repost an item I wrote a dozen years ago (can you believe I’ve been at this since 2008?) about the three “F”s of this holiday. Given how unusual 2020 has been (I’m being kind) so far, I thought I’d revisit the topic again.

Back then I wrote that “F” number one is Family. It’s the thing for which I am most thankful. That’s still true. If anything, I’m more thankful now because I’ve not seen my family in person for almost a year. We’ve lost folks who used to attend our dinner every year and others have moved far away. It’s an old truism that you can’t choose your family and for that, I’m thankful because I would never have chosen so well. Facetime isn’t face-to-face time and you can’t hug over Zoom. Let’s all hope this is a one-year abnormality.

“F” number two is Feasting. It’s weird not cooking for 25 and honestly, it feels less like a feast than it does a regular dinner. Still, I’m thankful that there is food of any sort on the table when I see pictures of many people struggling. Hunger is a problem here in the 12th richest nation. I’m not going to fry a turkey this year in the spirit of this year being totally different (let’s hope so). Buttermilk brined and spatchcocked, it will roast relatively quickly in the oven and what used to be days of prep and cooking will be greatly condensed.

“F” number three is Football. That won’t change although it’s weird listening to pumped in fan noise when the stands are mostly empty. It’s great that we have sports on this and other days to keep us amused but I worry about the athletes and the virus. I love the annual ritual of gathering to watch the games. I don’t love that the always-present risk of injury athletes live with is compounded by the risk from the virus.

This is how the original post concluded. Hard to believe that a dozen years later and in the midst of a pandemic not much has changed in my thinking.

Our family has been challenged this year by many of the same things that millions of other families face. Illnesses, the economy, wacky weather, and the other day-to-day events that keep it…interesting… Even so, we’re very fortunate and tomorrow will be a day to remember that. If anything, the adversity has pulled us even closer.

I’m very thankful, among other things, for those of you that take the time to read the screed every once in a while. I appreciate your comments when I hit home and even more so when I miss the mark. Have a great holiday!

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Filed under food, Thinking Aloud, What's Going On

Simply Great

It’s Foodie Friday and even though it’s November, it’s also Masters weekend. For any golf fan, The Masters Tournament is one of the highlights of the year and since we had to wait an additional 7 months for it this year, it’s even more special. While it’s always been a harbinger of Spring and the golf season to come, this year it’s wrapping up the year and it’s very different. No azaleas, no patrons (fans, to you), and, I’m told, none of the food that makes the Masters experience so unique.

If you’ve never been, this event is unique for many reasons. The biggest unique thing is that it is exceptionally fan-friendly when it comes to food. You see, the folks who put this tournament on are really not all that interested in making a ton of money off of their patrons. Unlike, say, the US Open Tennis, where a sandwich will set you back close to $20, a sandwich here costs $1.50. Not a typo, and the egg salad and the pimento cheese sandwiches are the stuff of legend. The sausage biscuit you’d pay $4 at Bojangles is also $1.50.

Ask any fan who has attended the tournament and I’m willing to bet you that they’ll mention the food, maybe even before they talk about the golf. A Georgia Peach Ice Cream Sandwich ($2) is so good that folks have been known to smuggle dry ice onto the grounds to take several home with them.

What makes the food so good? Well, first, it’s very simple. No fancy burgers. The most expensive food item is the $4 Bar-B-Que (that’s how it’s listed) sandwich. It’s not great barbecue but it’s still pretty tasty. Egg salad, pimento cheese, turkey clubs, and a chicken sandwich – all very basic. You could make everything they serve at home quite easily. The difference is it’s all really good, and because it doesn’t cost a month’s rent, I think whatever small shortcomings there might be are overlooked. You can buy the entire menu for the price of the fancy burgers sold at many places and several beers here for the price of one at any stadium. It’s simple and it’s great.

It’s a good lesson for any of us in business. Consumers are looking for great value (Walmart’s house brand is called that for a reason!) and when the product is not only a decent price but also is really good, you’ve got a winner. This food solves the “I’m hungry” problem exceptionally well. We all need to identify the problem we’re solving and do so better than anyone else. If we can do it at a great price, it’s game over.

I’ll make pimento cheese to watch the tournament and maybe some egg salad too. It’s won’t be the same as being in Augusta and maybe not as good (food always tastes better at the game, don’t you think?). It will remind me that The Masters is my favorite golf tournament for more reasons than the golf. How can you have your customers thinking that way about you?

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Filed under Consulting, food, What's Going On

9/11 19 Years Later

Flag of the United States

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No Foodie Friday post today. I try to keep those light and today is not really a day for lightness. I’m reposting something I wrote 9 years ago on the tenth anniversary of a day that changed this country and the world, and not for the better. As I read it again, not much has changed, unfortunately. Take a minute or two today and think about that day and all those who were lost and who’ve been lost since as a result.

 

Today, this isn’t about business. If you want to skip it and come back in a couple of days, I understand. See you Tuesday.

I’m publishing this on 9/11, 10 years after a horrible day changed the world forever. I’ve spent a good part of the day thinking about the subsequent decade and how it was so very different from the 4 others in which I’ve lived that preceded it and I want to use today to share some of those thoughts. I also know we don’t do politics here – I think today we will, although hopefully in a non-partisan way.  So here are a few things I remember most about 9/11/01.

First, how beautiful the weather was that day. My commute brought me into Grand Central Station and as I walked into the sunlight and smelled the air with the smallest traces of Fall in it, I thought about how the weeks after Labor day are the best time to come to NYC. I now think about 9/11 every time it’s a really nice day.

I also thought how nice a day it was going to be for flying. A few work colleagues and I were going to San Francisco that afternoon out of Newark. We were originally going out on a morning flight but realized our meetings were later the next day so we changed flights a week earlier. Spooky.

Finally, the main thing I recall about 9/11 was 9/12.  And 9/13.  And many days thereafter.  It was about how for one of the few times in my life, the entire country came together as one.  No Democrats, no RepublicansAmericans.  I felt it in the emails and calls I received from concerned folks from all around the country and from other countries.  As a New Yorker, you saw it in all the folks who came to help from all over.

That all changed later and was, in retrospect, probably only a Band-Aid on some wounds that began to fester some time in the 90’s.  But MAN, it felt good.

That’s what struck me today – how those wounds have turned gangrenous and how utterly incapable we as a people seem to sit together and discuss how to clean up the economic and social messes around us, much as we cleaned up that other mess 10 years ago.  The memorials today showed me that we still have the ability to unite in a common good under a flag, but only if we stop yelling, start listening, and try to feel what we all felt after the unspeakable horror of that day:  that we have to find a way to clean this up and fix this.  Not as Democrats or Republicans – as Americans.

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Filed under Reality checks, What's Going On