Saturday, June 13, 2009

"Where's your missionary?"

Serving the Beans
Foreigners cannot enjoy our food, I suppose, any more than we can enjoy theirs. It is not strange; for tastes are made, not born. I might glorify my bill of fare until I was tired; but afer all, the Scotchman would shake his head, and say, "Where's your haggis?" and the Fijan would sigh and say, "Where's your missionary?"

Mark Twain A Tramp Abroad

Catfish FryerSouthern fried catfish. Covered and smothered in the hardiest cornmeal batter you can find and dropped into a vat of oil rolling and seething with the fury of the seas boiling before a hurricane. Add some golden fried chips, a splash of tartar sauce, and a hushpuppy or three? You have the makings for some good eats right there.

Work had their annual picnic recently. The main course that was catered in was catfish, cooked on the spot, served hot, and all you can stuff down your gullet. Definitely a photo-op to be sure. I don't remember the company they brought in. It was the Manchaca Fire Department (Manchaca Firehall). They pulled in a large trailer replete with refrigerators packed with catfish, a rather large prep area, and four or five deep fryers. Boiling OIlThe more people ate, the more fish they battered and sacrificed to the gods of Canola and Flame.

The lines for the food stretched from one end of the building to the other. People chattered and kibitzed, but only in the politest of manners. There was a table full of lego men. Yes, I said lego men. One of the odd traditions, I've discovered. They (as in the group, not the lego men) have team building exercises wherein groups race to build dozens of lego men and the winners get ... more lego men. But all the ones that are built throughout the year get bundled up and given away at this picnic.

Strange, I know. What more could you ask for from a team building experience?

Catfish ... the other white meat.Now, where was I. Yes, they gave out lego men. I picked up one of the medics. Why a medic? I used to work with a Vietnam Vet and he'd occasionally pipe up and yell, "MEDIC! I'M HIT!" whenever something bad went down in the environment. So, I had to pickup a corpsman and stretcher to keep on my desk. Oddly enough, the medic and I soon parted ways when I gave it to my office mate. He objects to the lego men. Something about zombie hordes of little plastic men coming to take over the world or something. Or maybe not. I can't exactly remember. I just recall the look on his face when I placed it on his desk.

But, back to the story. I'm finding that the camera is going with me everywhere most days now. Especially with the new lens cranked on there. I swear, it's practically welded on by this point. Knowing that there'd be a few hundred people at this picnic, it went along with me. I encountered a few other photogs there. They were focusing on the event in general. Catfish and chipsI was just having fun. With my camera and my heaping plate of food, I grabbed a chair and camped out at a table next to my friend Scarlett. I stole a few shots of her food because it looked more interesting than mine. But then, it was more interesting because I'd eaten most of my catfish and hadn't yet gone back for seconds.

I ended up being joined by a few of the associate VPs. Funny that. I had to be on my best behavior. Wouldn't want to make a resume-altering statement in front of three of the most powerful people in the group. So, I mostly ate in silence and occasionally took a photo or two. When all was said and done, I finished off the afternoon with the remains of what was on the table. Empty plates, full bellies, and nothing but trash.

Burp!One of the AVPs commented how good my camera was when the photo of the trashed remains came up on the screen. I pointed out it was the photographer that made the photo. The camera, unlike the photog, was just a tool.

I think it went over their heads.

They still liked the photo, though. And me, I was fat, dumb, and happy. Full of catfish and ready for a nap.

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