Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Home From the Greenbrier: A Retrospective

 How do I sum up the Greenbrier experience?

I've perused the writings of my fellow attendees of the Symposium for Professional Food Writers at the Greenbrier during the past few days. Their reflections are comprehensive, coherent and helpful, while I still don't know what to say. I'm not inclined to merely parrot their observations or roll out a series of photos of everything we ate, since the focus was on food writing and publishing, not simply on food. In fact, I was leery of paying too much attention to the food itself for fear I'd miss out on the meat (so to speak) of the Symposium.

Instead of blathering on about it, I'll let three photos speak for me:

 The attention to detail was striking, all the way down to the chocolates on our tables in our meeting room. Notice how each one is arranged just so, with the wrappers placed facing outward? No detail was too small to escape their attention. On my bed were four pillows: a soft one for stomach sleepers, a medium one for back sleepers, a firm one for side sleepers and a feather pillow for me! I built a fort out of them, burrowed in each night and slept the sleep of the happily overwhelmed.

Speaking of happily overwhelmed, breakfast on the final morning featured this knock-your-socks-off presentation of pork, a chunky and succulent homemade sausage wrapped in a perfect latticework of bacon. The ungenerous, antisocial part of me wanted to snatch it away and sit in the corner alone and eat it all.

I didn't do that, you'll be happy to know. The company was too good and the conversation too rich, to do such a thing. I have more friends and professional associates than I had before I went, people whose talent, work and opinions I value. People I can turn to for advice, and for whom I'll gladly provide the same. We writers do not exist in a bubble. We need each other's insights, generously given. At the Symposium, I hit the mother lode.

self portrait
I love this painting of a drooling pig, hung just outside the entrance to the main dining room at the Greenbrier. It pretty much sums up the way I feel about my experience there, both personally and professionally--happy, but hungry for more.


susanr said...

Congratulation on attending the symposium. Indeed writers don't exist in a bubble, but sometimes it's awfully hard to connect with one another. Loneliness can be a professional hazard. It must have been wonderful to meet so many good writers in such a luxy setting!

Holly A Hughes said...

That was the breakfast the last morning? Oh, I KNEW I shouldn't have left early...

It was great getting to know you at the Symposium, Carol. I love your sense of humor! And thank you for taking that photo of the chocolates. I noticed you were eyeing them on the table. . . as was I . . . but while my interest was entirely gluttonous, I now realize yours was more aesthetic!

Hungry Passport said...

Oh, there was definitely the gluttony factor, Holly. I just exercised enough restraint to take a photo before falling face down in the chocolate dish!

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