The first Foodie Friday of the new year and we had a lot of snow here in the northeast with which to welcome it. The folks have been out plowing streets and driveways all night and that put the word “ploughman” into my head. I know – different kind of plough (or “plow” as we spell it here in America). But it also brought a ploughman’s lunch to mind.
For those of you unfamiliar with the term, it’s a meal one can order in a British pub consisting of bread, cheese, and beer (you knew I’d get to food eventually). I had always thought that this was some sort of traditional lunch that field workers had eaten for centuries. When those workers migrated from the fields to the cities, I assumed that they took their lunch with them and pubs served the food that people traditionally ate midday. As it turns out, that was what I was meant to believe by the British Cheese Bureau which created the lunch and marketed it following the second world war as a way to increase cheese sales. Pretty clever – create a feeling of nostalgia for a supposedly traditional meal in a time when the world was just betting back to “normal” following a decade of horror. Which of course is the business point today.
History is constantly being rewritten to suit the purposes of the author. On a very minor scale, we do it every time we tweak our resumes. On a major scale, different people are given credit or blame for things that go very well or very badly. The past is changed to suit to present. Whether it’s work or play, one always needs to understand not just the author’s point of view but also their agenda. While the ploughman’s lunch didn’t taste any worse once I found out it was a marketing ploy, I kind of felt like Dorothy when the curtain fell and The Wizard was revealed.
That’s a reminder as we start the new year – question everything (even me!). Look for facts from disinterested, multiple sources. That’s getting harder to do as journalism migrates from reporting to advocacy outside of business and it’s always been a challenge inside. Are you up to the task?
We normally do food related posts on Fridays here on the screed but since there is something else that deserves out attention happening tomorrow I’m doing our Foodie Friday Fun post today.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
This week’s topic is a food that is a staple here are Rancho Deluxe and in many homes – most of them a lot further south than here – around the country: Pimento Cheese. For those of you unfamiliar with it, pimento cheese is a blend of cheese and pimentos and other ingredients. About the only thing about which most folks agree is that it has to have cheese and pimentos and that some of the cheese needs to be yellow cheddar. Things diverge from there.
Mayonnaise? Pickle juice? Worcestershire sauce? Other cheeses? Cream cheese? Cayenne pepper? Vinegar? Depending on one’s tastes and, more importantly, family traditions, the answer is a resounding “yes” or unwavering “no”. Every family has its own recipe and unique prep method. Basically, if it’s not made the way your mom or grandmother makes it, the spread is just not right. It’s a simple food that restaurants often dress up (Abbamare infused pimento cheese with heirloom peppers – shoot me!) unnecessarily. It’s also the sort of food that demonstrates a few very basic truths about business.
First, when you’re charging people with a task, be very specific if you’re expecting a specific result. “Make me pimento cheese” can mean very different things. “Use this recipe and make me pimento cheese” gets you a better result. Second, there is usually more than one way to get an excellent solution. For those of us who didn’t grow up with a family recipe, tasting different variations on the theme got us to the cheese we enjoy today. Keep an open mind – accept that many roads lead to Rome – and you’ll be better off. Finally, don’t make the simple overly complex. The differences between homemade mayo vs. jarred and imported small batch cheese in pimento cheese are silly other than to justify charging some outrageous price. Simple is generally better, faster, and more cost-effective.
As with many things in the kitchen and in the office, different people hear the same thing in different ways. Our job is to get everyone on the same page, working towards the same final product. Then we get to stand back and watch people enjoy! You with me?
To end the week in our usual food-themed way, I want to talk about a piece of advice I was given a long time ago. I thought it concerned shopping and it turns out it’s important business advice as well. I’ll admit that it was given to me in a different time, when much of the food didn’t come from a supermarket the size of several airplane hangers. Shopping involved going to the butcher or the cheese store as well as the larger store where one would get grocery items and the advice was to make friends. Despite the change in store sizes, it’s still great advice for shopping and business. Let me explain.
Image via Wikipedia
You can tell it’s Friday from the food headline, right? I was rummaging around the fridge last night and came across some stinky cheese (OK, a very fine Stilton) and some pate I had forgotten I purchased a few days ago. Those things might not appeal to you but to me they’re a loud alarm going off that’s screaming “find some wine and crackers,” which is what I did. When I stopped making happy noises, I had a thought about business. Not about whatever tasks I wasn’t going to get done while I drank wine and ate cheese but about business life in general. Which is this: Continue reading