If you were watching teevee over the weekend, you were bound to have flipped past the episode of Dinner: Impossible filmed in Grafton. (You might have even seen the commercial on the Food Network last week, which featured first lady Gayle Manchin.)
Anyway, it turned out that Iron Chef Michael Symon and crew were totally screwed from the get go, because Grafton, for all its charm, is so damn far away from a large grocery store. Half of their cooking time was spent going to Sam’s Club and back, leaving them just over 2 hours to make dinner for 500 people. Now I realize that this is just a silly cooking show and all, but I thought the outcome was so totally appropriate for something filmed in West Virginia. Michael Symon’s greatest challenge was simply overcoming the fact that he was in Grafton, West Virginia.
People almost always equate success with things like talent and hard work, but it is just as often influenced by pure geography. Your options are greatly expanded or severely limited by where you you are physically located. Geography is even tied to life expectancy — the closer you live to a good hospital, the greater your chances of living a longer life. But my favorite, albeit imperfect example of how geography influences people’s lives: Look up a few of your favorite actors or directors on IMDB. Do you really think it’s a coincidence that the overwhelming majority of successful American-born actors and directors grew up in either California or New York? Is there something in the water in these places that produces great actors? Of course not. Los Angeles and New York City are the centers of the entertainment business, and it’s as simple as that. It’s pure Geography. Regardless of socioeconomic background, If you want to be a part of something, you almost have to be where that something happens. If Martin Scorsese had been born in Welch instead of Queens, it’s highly unlikely that he would have grown up to make movies. He probably wouldn’t have even thought about it. Just like kids from Orange County California don’t dream of growing up to be coal miners.
I admit to being jealous that Gayle Manchin got to meet Michael Symon, and hear his somewhat scary, yet somehow infectious laugh in person.