Late October, 2006. Just more than a year after Hurricane Katrina, when storm refugees started to vacate the local hotels they’d called home for so many months, both sides of our sizable family gathered in Hattiesburg to celebrate our wedding.
Our wedding was casual – no need for a rehearsal. Not the kind to miss an opportunity for a big meal, we went ahead and had a rehearsal dinner anyway.
Folks traveled from as close as the Delta and as far away as Seattle, and they were hungry.
We have a huge extended family. Between the two of us, we have four living parents and step-parents, eight siblings (including in-laws), upwards of 25 aunts and uncles (NOT counting in-laws), and somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 first cousins. We have never been able to make an exact count.
We came into our marriage with the understanding that we’d try to learn the names of all the great aunts, but probably fail, and that Thanksgiving dinner would always have a guest list of at least 30.
Every family has its own version of a “celebration” meal. Be it a special birthday meal, turkey with all the trimmings at Thanksgiving or grilled burgers on the Fourth of July. We all have foods that mark special occasions.
In our family? Nothing says “party time” like cheese.
Our family table overflows with as many cheeses as we can find – a peppery salami, fruits, olives, jams, breads and crackers. There’s barely room for wine glasses, but somehow we manage.
Did you eat yet? Every Southerner knows that the answer to this question really isn’t important. You are about to be given food – and a drink – no matter what you say.
Whether it’s a slice of pound cake and a frosty glass of sweet tea enjoyed on the porch, a dizzying array of leftovers on your grandma’s kitchen table, or – if you are really lucky – a homegrown tomato sandwich so juicy you eat it standing over the sink, nothing says “Welcome” in the South like food.
One of the great ironies of working in the food industry is that you rarely get to eat in a restaurant. You work when other people are eating, and eat when other people are sleeping.
On your days off, you relish the chance to cook something for yourself, if you have the energy. If not, takeout is the name of the game. Sit-down meals in restaurants are few and far between. Sit-down meals in restaurants with your spouse are even more rare.
In the two decades we have lived and cooked in Hattiesburg, we have learned this to be true – Hattiesburgers love to eat. Whether making a mad dash to get to the Downtown Farmer’s Market before all the choice tomatoes are sold, debating where to get the best shrimp po-boy, or indulging in our love of any and all things topped with Creole cream sauce, we come alive around food.
From meal replacement smoothies to cool drinks billed as immune builders, it’s pretty safe to say that Smoothie King is looking out for your well being.
As the fastest-growing smoothie franchise company with more than 700 stores worldwide, they are well on their way. And Travis Bolster, of Hattiesburg, who owns and operates the two local businesses, along with Qdoba Mexican Grill, is doing his part.
Fitness Blends. Slim Blends. Wellness Blends. Energy Blends. And even blends to Take a Break, Smoothie King believes they have the right smoothie to fuel your unique purpose.