According to one of our regular bar customers, he was chatting with a fellow who’d just returned from vacation in Key West, and asked the returnee what he thought of the cuisine in southernmost Florida.
“You mean the food? Look, you don’t have to give up anything down there. They have McDonald’s and Taco Bell just like here in Louisville — probably KFC, too.”
Presumably, you don’t have to “give up” Bud, Miller or Coors, either — neither in Key West, nor in Nome, Alaska — although the anecdote prompts a doleful reflection on the state of cultural appreciation in the world, to wit: Has there ever been a country where so many people proclaim their unique individuality by means of a slavish and overt devotion to numbing conformity in the form of the mass market?
I fully understand that an appreciation for irony has never been an indigenous skill for most Americans, but isn’t it just plainly sad at a very basic human level that people blessed with the means to travel arrive at their ultimate destination and ignore the local flavor in favor of the safety of the cookie-cutter?
Anywhere I go, here or abroad, I look first for the local beer and the local brewpubs, because more often than not, the people at the local brewpubs who drink local beer can make the best suggestions as to what else in their locality differs from the Louisville norm. That’s precisely what travel should be about. Travel should open eyes to other ways, cultures and flavors. Food and drink should be different in Mexico and Maine. The joy lies in the differences.
People come to Louisville each year for the Derby and the festivities that precede it. I hope that while here, visitors check out our brewpubs, bourbons and culinary offerings. There’s great stuff waiting to be discovered, and remembered.
Roger Baylor is co-owner of the New Albanian Brewing Co. in New Albany. Visit www.potablecurmudgeon.com
for more beer.