Blog by: Eric Kuznar
After five hours of moving on our feet in 75-degree heat carrying equipment and chasing stories, very few things overpower the deadening grip of sheer exhaustion. One of those things is hunger, as my fellow journalists and I found out over the past four days.
After chugging any available water and packing up the vans with cameras, stands, microphones and other assorted pieces of equipment, a car to car debate usually ensues over where to eat. It often devolves into one question, does the need to eat at this instant override the preference to find a local place that has deeper flavor not just in food but also culture and atmosphere.
The former usually finds us packing 15 people into the closest fast food joint like pickled sardines ordering over-processed food and burgers that shortly before order were in a deep freeze. However on the occasion that our morale is high enough to wait an extra 20 minutes has yielded some of the greatest fruits for our consumption.
As journalists it is our job to engrain ourselves into the local culture in varying levels in-order to find out how the people live, think and feel. There are fewer watering holes that bring together all facets of a community quite like local eateries.
The first day it was The Reserve, a local coffee shop in Sarasota that also served alcohol and food. Later it was The Village Fish Market and Restaurant in Punta Gorda, Jimmy Hula’s in Brandon and Moonswiners BAR-B-Q in Fort Pierce. All of these places are different in flavor, atmosphere and overall quality of food and service. What they all have in common is that the establishments represent the culture and people of the surrounding communities.
As journalists it is our job to act as a fly on the wall of the communities we cover acting as a receptacle for information we hear or see. On the rare occasion this part of our work can cross with pleasure as we eat and interact with the people whose responsibility it is to feed the local community.
I for one will always look to local eateries, short of complete starvation, for quality, taste, culture and real human-to-human interaction with the people that fuel the local area.