Saturday, 21 July 2007

My time in Memphis.

If you have checked into my blog lately and you are not an educator, I imagine it will have been of little interest. I have been trying to keep up to date with notes on the conferences I have been attending, for my colleagues at home. Today I thought I should tell you about the fun aspects of my visit to Memphis. My thanks to the delegates and organizers of both conferences for making me really welcome and showing me a great time. In the brief, busy time I was there, I think I managed to have the quintessential southern experience.
On Monday at lunch we had a Corky’s BBQ….I think maybe it was a bit much for me, flavour-wise, for lunch. I avoided the beans – they looked kind of scary, and apparently committed a cardinal sin by not putting BBQ sauce on my pork….
Monday night we went on a Mississippi river dinner cruise on a paddle steamer… It was a pleasant evening, but that section of the Mississippi river is not what you would call scenic….the view was much improved by the fall of darkness. Dinner proved to be the identical menu to lunch, but wether the time of the day was more suitable, or it was better cooked, I'm not sure, but it seemed more enjoyable. The pork was tender and good with the BBQ sauce, and I was surprised to discover I love southern bake beans (in a sauce of BBQ, mustard and brown sugar, instead of the tomato we are used to back home). Wednesday after the conference we had a closing dinner at Pat O’Brien’s, where the meal included Gumbo and Jambalaya, 2 southern specialties. After dinner we went for a stroll up Beale St – the Blues capital of the world (to hear locals say, anyway). It was very vibrant, with loud, live music being broadcast from every doorway, and local children and teens tumbling in the streets for money – there are some amazing acrobats down there! Some of the older boys could do handsprings the length of the street faster than some people can run – amazing! Wednesday at the 2nd conference lunch was, you guessed it Corky’s BBQ. By this time I’m quite enjoying the flavours but 3 times in 2 days is ‘just a bit much’ (imagine a strong southern accent there). The opening keynote address was started by a performance from an Elvis impersonator, which was lots of fun, and that night we headed off to Graceland for the evening. The tour was much better than I expected – a very tasteful look at the life and home of Elvis Presley, I enjoyed it. Then over the street to the car museum, in which we find the restaurant, where we enjoyed a Hawaiian style meal, concluding with ‘Monkey Tails’ – bananas dipped in chocolate and rolled in coconut, served on a stick. I hooked up with a great bunch of people – IT technicians from a West (?) Tennessee school district who looked after me and showed me a great time. Although I intended an early night and was planning on the first bus back…I ended up on the last bus, after a great night.
On Thursday, I got to try another classic southern meal – fresh catfish. It was ok, a little fishy for me, but cooked really nicely. It was served with ‘hush puppies’, cornbread dough with onions and relish mixed through, and deep fried.
Thursday night entertainments brought another classic American experience for me – a professional baseball game. We went to see the Memphis Red Birds, a triple A minor league team, who supply the Cardinals (a Major League team). We had a lot of fun, although the game was pretty slow, and the poor Redbirds got absolutely flattened by Oklahoma. I bought myself a little Rockey stuffed toy – the Redbirds mascot, and had an Ice cream float in a funky long souvenir cup. I gave April my cup – she kindly bought me the float, and that way her kids could have one each. Basically a float is what we call a spider, but this cup is shaped so the coke is at the bottom and the ice-cream sits in a cup – you eat it with a spoon, but as it melts it flows down into the coke. Mmmmmm yummy!! Special thanks to April, Buster, Beverley and Jerry for making my stay so much fun!

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