Memphis is Cookin’: Come Hell or High Water

26 May
Memphis is Cookin’: Come Hell or High Water

This year the festival saluted my husband’s native country, Belgium, so we thought it would be an oportune time to bring more family along to celebrate their country in my hometown. There were six of us in total, two Belgian‘s and two French who now live in the UK. They all were surprised at how comfortable and friendly Memphis is in general. And I have to say, I agree after living abroad for over a year and a half now. Memphis is like your favorite pair of shoes. When you put them on, you instantly relax. You won’t win any beauty contests, but you’ll feel at home–that’s Memphis.

For two of my husband’s family, it was their first trip to the US, so I was paying close attention to their reactions as I remember (and still experience) how I felt when I was in their shoes…experiencing something completely new, different and indescribable until your brain has time to process it. At the moment, you can only feel, not take inventory of the experience, as if your senses are overloaded with just keeping up with basic functioning. I recognized this ‘look’ (amalgamation of emotion) in them. It may be something that Americans take for granted, I’m not sure, but there is an overwhelming buzz that takes place when you set foot on US soil. Maybe it’s the collective energy of the people, a hopefulness that anything is possible if you just try? It’s difficult to describe, but there is palpable difference, that just being on the land emanates somehow.

The same is true in Europe but in a much different way. There is a feeling of being part of history, something older and greater than you. I love this feeling too and is equally overwhelming, but the US has the exact opposite feel. It feels new, exciting and I dare say, hopeful. France in deeply rooted in tradition, despite its socialistic economy and neo-political views reflected in its government. Not to digress into a geo-cultural-political argument here, but the point being that I think on some level, we can tune into the emotional climate of a country or city, whether we are conscious of it or not. You know when you feel at home someplace or not. Or the fact there are some people you connect with immediately and others, maybe never. You feel it before you experience it more often than not.

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So what does all this rhetoric have to do with Memphis In May BBQFest or a hill of BBQ baked beans for that matter? Well, simply speaking, some places get inside you, become part of you, shape you into someone more interesting if you let it. I think any place you connect to is for a good reason. Whether through their regional cuisine, the kindness of the people or for reasons you may not even understand. For me, I connect with my hometown more now than I did before. Not that I want to move back, but only that I appreciate how truly unique Memphis is and how it is part of me.

After living in the Chartreuse region of France for the past year and a half, I also feel connected to my village in France. I realize that having lived in both places has changed me for the better. I guess what I’m trying to say, is savor every experience in a place that you’ve lived or visited, appreciate it’s uniqueness and accept it as part of you. I think the BBQFest epitomizes Memphis pretty well when they say, “Memphis is cookin’: come hell or high water.” A resilient people and city, who will make a way, no matter what comes! Vive Memphis and thankya, thankya very much!

To learn more about Memphis, visit Memphis Travel:

* Photos (daytime) provided by the Memphis Commercial Appeal and yours truly.


Posted by on May 26, 2011 in Culture Choc


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7 responses to “Memphis is Cookin’: Come Hell or High Water

  1. Kelly Sullivan

    May 26, 2011 at 3:43 pm

    So glad you got to share this! My dad learned to do proper pulled pork bbq and each time it’s a treat! He’s doing one this weekend for us and I can’t wait! Takes all day, but it’s worth the wait…

    • expatriotgames

      May 26, 2011 at 4:41 pm

      Hi Kelly! Thanks for the comment and your dad rocks in my book too ;0). Enjoy it!

  2. pys72

    May 27, 2011 at 8:57 am

    Yet another great article and thank you for publishing again. I missed reading your prose.

  3. wherewander

    May 30, 2011 at 10:52 pm

    you are back home!!!!!

    • expatriotgames

      May 31, 2011 at 9:29 am

      Hi Ellen! Only went back to see friends and family and for some of my family in Europe to finally meet my family in Memphis! It was great & nerve-wracking (worrying about everyone understanding/comfortable with one another) at the same time. Back in France now but will be moving to England soon. I will still continue my reflections on France, but now will have a new venue to experience and also, write about. Exciting, yet again…a bit nerve-wracking again. Last time we spoke, you were headed to the jungle…I will read of your adventures too! Thanks for stopping by!!

      • wherewander

        May 31, 2011 at 7:31 pm

        oh my!! that´s a lot !!! seeing friends, US family, French family, going back and moving again soon!! nerve-wracking is the word!!! but being at home, even if for a short while, must have been great for you!!
        well, at least in London you ´won´t have problems with the language but I´m guessing lots of funny misunderstandings with the US and Br expressions!!!
        I´m back from the funny jungle to the not so funny concrete jungle and dreaming of going somewhere again …


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