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'Best breakfast in town' -- yeah, right

Around the table

POSTED: April 10, 2014 6:00 p.m.
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Certain criteria for the eggs, bacon and grits have to be met before a meal can be called the 'best' breakfast in town.

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The large billboard could be seen half-mile away when traveling north on I-95, near the town of Dunn, N.C. The colorful ad depicted a large dinner plate with two eggs over-easy, several slices of bacon and a generous portion of good ol’ Southern grits.
The picture got my attention, but the message “Best breakfast in town” did not. Marketing slogans are a lot like political promises: They’re more hype than facts. We’re not supposed to take ads or political promises literally, but we do. Then we get upset when “best breakfast,” “no new taxes” or “you can keep your health-care plan” promises cause a sour stomach.
Some marketing folks are like politicians in that they tell you their truth, not the truth. If, or when, they’re caught in a “bait and switch,” they’ll equivocate like the finest defense lawyers to defend their clients and advertising agency.
Imagine stopping at the restaurant whose ad is described above. You order their “best breakfast,” only to find the eggs you get are from a carton, not fresh from the chicken; the bacon is turkey, not the real, smoky good stuff made from pork bellies; and the grits are, in fact, Cream of Wheat. Blasphemy!
My reaction is no different than finding out my taxes really are going up or that my health-care plan is being cancelled. I despise a lousy breakfast almost as much as being forced to pay for a higher-priced health-care plan that includes coverage for things I don’t need, like maternity care. I may look like I’m going to have a baby, but I’m not. Really.
Some well-meaning friends have served as marketing spokesfolks for what they think is a great restaurant. I can’t count the number of times someone has told me, “Oh, so-and-so is the best Mexican, Chinese, barbecue, seafood, et al restaurant in town.” Then I try so-and-so’s and decide he or she has defective taste buds.
More likely, his culinary experience is not as extensive as mine. The word “best” means something entirely different to my friend.
For me, “authentic” Mexican implies it’s what you’d expect to find it in Mexico, New Mexico or Texas. Great seafood requires it be fresh. That’s why I head down to Darien when I want seafood. I’d rather pay a little more for the fresh stuff than save a dollar and eat something I could have taken from my own freezer.
Two of my favorite restaurants now are operating under new owners and management. In addition to raising the price for their buffets, they’ve replaced their catfish fillets with tilapia. I’d rather eat roadkill toad.
I’ve been eating catfish for nearly six decades. Please don’t serve me some foreign fish that’s raised in the polluted waters of some developing country then tell me it’s farm-raised catfish! American farm-raised catfish are grain-fed and raised in large, open ponds, not in wire cages suspended in stagnant, polluted waters. Even worse, imported farm-raised tilapia often are fed the manure of other farm animals.
As I’ve said before, honest people can have sincere discussions, even debates, about great pizza, steak or barbecue. I once was told to try a sandwich at what was supposed to be the best barbecue in Ludowici. It was not anything to write home about, but the fellah who referred me there wasn’t lying — it turns out they had the only barbecue in Ludowici.
When I see a billboard or hear about a particular restaurant, I reserve my opinion until I actually try it. I’m not a follower of any particular national restaurant chain or political party. If I like a restaurant or candidate, I’ll refer it or him/her to others by word of mouth. If I don’t like it, I won’t spread slanderous accusations, unless I see outrageous sanitary conditions or hear budget-busting lies. In that case, I’ll contact the appropriate authorities. You should, too.
I’d like to hear from those who are less than impressed with a restaurant I’ve recommended in the past. Sometimes, management will change, and with it, prices may go up and quality may go down. I’d like to know about it.
On the other hand, if you simply don’t like my recommendation for the “best breakfast in town,” that’s OK. Your taste buds may heal someday.

Email Murray at rmurray@coastalcourier.com.

 

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