33 min read

Of Moon Pies and Men

Think you know your Southern desserts? After 107 years, many folks still can't tell the difference between mooning someone and making whoopie...
Of Moon Pies and Men
The estimable Mr. Tim Rutherford: wine and food expert, and all-around nice chap.

I first met Tim Rutherford decades ago in Savannah. At the time, he was a visible newspaper guy with a reputation for being not only an easygoing and swell person to be around, but for also carrying a heartfelt love for quality food, wine and spirits.

He often channeled that passion for food and drink into his writing, and into the wide variety of food and beverage-themed tastings and events he either organized and promoted himself or helped publicize for others. Whether used in conjunction with an established specialty dining establishment or an alcohol distributor, vineyard or upstart restaurateur, Tim’s imprimatur carried weight with folks in the Coastal Empire who cared about such things as well.

We shared a number of mutual friends, yet never had the occasion to be around each other in-person for longer than an hour or so, and that was usually while dining near one another by happenstance, or attending the same function, gathering or party. But I always felt Tim was in some undefined way a kindred spirit. And not merely because we both had an obvious predilection for using our words (whether written or spoken) to point others towards topics or choices we felt were worth showcasing, as even a brief chat with the man never failed to brighten my day.

I had not seen him in ages and was vaguely aware that he had at some point left Savannah for the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina, where the cooler weather and seasonal snow is a welcome change for those of us accustomed to life on the fetid, gnat-infested coast (but the dramatic increase in drum circles is most certainly not). However, Facebook’s algorithm would occasionally result in a post or two of his gracing my news feed. That’s where I recently learned of his understandable frustration with a particular National Public Radio reporter who had ― to aficionados of Southern cuisine ― recently committed an arguably unpardonable on-air sin.

Feeling a sense of simpatico with his own outrage at what could only be termed an egregious, nay heinous, lapse in both journalistic and gustatory integrity, I reached out to the good Mr. Rutherford immediately, and inquired if he would be up for discussing this shocking error in greater detail, for the benefit of my readership. He kindly agreed, and within less than 24 hours, we were on the phone for our most substantial conversation in more than a decade. It was a truly lovely chat, and as you’ll see from the transcript below (which has only been lightly edited for clarity and punctuation), we both spent a good deal of our time laughing.

These are perilous and spectacularly dispiriting times, and often I find I must be reminded just how important it is for one’s mental health to simply share a vibrant, fact-based, and unpredictable conversation that has absolutely nothing to do with the stomach-churning death spiral our society now finds itself in. My lengthy phone call with Tim wound up refueling my near empty gas tank of optimism for several days afterward. And it reminded me that people truly can step into a completely different living situation and find some semblance of happiness and contentment ― even if it does take longer than expected to find just how and where one fits into their new paradigm.

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