Well, they sure know how to take care of folks down here in the southern U.S.
Folks attending the Travel South Showcase were treated to a magnificent show by New Orleans chef Kevin Belton, a 6-9, 400-pound former football player who cracks with the wisest of them and cooks up a storm on stage.
Belton told attendees how they need to avoid margarine and stick with butter. "It keeps you smooth," he said.
"I didn't go to college, I went to LSU," he said with a laugh. "In our theory, the bad stuff can't grab you; it slides right through."
Belton said food should be appreciated and savoured.
"You put something in your moth, you need to be doing the Snoopy dance."
Belton made some praline drops but there were only about 30 for a crowd of some 375 people at breakfast the other day. He suggested folks just take a lick and pass it around. Somehow that didn't happen, so instead folks did a mock storming of the stage and made it first-come, first-devoured.
They also had a 10-person choir and a smouldering young singer, amongst other entertainment. The choir did a stunning job with "Battle Hymn of the Republic" and with "I'll Fly Away."
Wonderful and joyous.
MORE FOOD FIXIN'S
During the festivities here participants got to try sweet potato biscuits (yum), beignets, pecan tarts, grits and wine from both Virginia and North Carolina. I'm a bit of a wine snob but it was actually pretty good. The Biltmore Cabernet Sauvignon from Carolina was fuller bodied than I expected and had some nice fruit-forward flavour.
FUN WITH SLOGANS
Alabama has embraced its inner Lynyrd Skynyrd, adopting the band's famous song and making Sweet Home Alabama their slogan.
Kentucky this week showed a video that used the official U.S. postal service abbreviation for the state and called the video "unbridledKYadventure." If that doesn't sound a little, ahem, odd to you I'm not gonna spell it out in a family newspaper blog.
DIDN'T KNOW THAT
Florida had a showcase party called "Been There, Didn't Know That" to tell folks about lots of "undiscovered" things about the Sunshine State. Learned that Panama City is building an international airport and that you can catch Australian barramundi in lakes in and around Kissimmee. Also didn't know Kissimmee has a huge annual rodeo called the Silver Spur Rodeo. They say it might be the biggest
east of the MIssissippi, although I don't know what kind of competition there is. The state also has a new golf website called golf.visitflorida.com.
This year's NFL Super Bowl was in Tampa. The 2010 version goes in Miami, which means Star columnist Dave Perkins gets to try Joe's Stone Crab for dinner ... Spotted at a Louisiana travel table was a great coobook: "Who's Your Mama, Are you Catholic and can you make a roux." Great title ... Did you know there's a magazine in the U.S. south called "Y'all?" How good is that? ... South Carolina has tons of food festivals, including a peanut festival, a chittlin' festival, a watermelon festival and an okra festival. There's also an annaul Octoberfest ... The first land battle of the U.S. Civil War was fought in what's now West Virginia. The first amputation of the war is said to have taken place there, too, a tourism official said .... Arkansas has a visitor's centre called Miss Laura's and it's said to be the only visitor centre in the U.S. that's on a site formerly occupied by a bordello ...The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year. It's the most visited national park in the U.S., partly because it's so close to major cities such as Washington and Atlanta. Although the entrance to the park is in Tennessee, North Carolina folks proudly point out that more of the park is in their state than is in Tennessee ...Graceland in Memphis is the second most visited home in the U.S. after the White House. No idea what's third; maybe Hugh Hefner's place in L.A.? ... There's no shortage of U.S. states growing wine these days. Apparently there are wineries in not only Virginia and North Carolina but Tennessee and, gulp, Alabama ... Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter still teaches Sunday school every week (when he's around) in his home town of Plains, Georgia. I like that.