A nationally known writer was interviewed in our city's newspaper recently. It was a simple Q&A -- a sort of "get to know you" piece, as the writer lives here. The paper does this every Friday, posing questions ranging from "Who are you and what do you do?" to "Where are your favorite places to eat?" and "What are your favorite local activities?" It's all supposed to be light and happy, featuring local restaurants and activities.
I don't get the newspaper delivered to my house anymore (a long story for another time) but I heard about the interview from a couple of my online friends, who were thrilled to be called out as places or people she liked. One posted a link, and I clicked to read the entire story.
Mostly what I expected.
Till I got to the part where she talked about what Tuscaloosa "needed."
A great coffee place. Yeah, she was probably imagining something slightly (ok, a LOT) more eclectic than Starbucks (cause we have SEVERAL of those in town). We do, also, have an independent coffee shop (Heritage House), but they are not open late. And we used to have a cool coffee/tea place called Chloe's Cup, but it closed (I'm assuming lack of sales). I also have it on good authority that we're about to have a tea truck, and that will be WAY cool. All this went through my mind, but I didn't stress and certainly was not offended.
Then she said we needed a "great artisanal bakery."
Some people mainly associate the word artisanal with bread. Or cheese. But the term actually defines any food made fresh, by hand, in small batches. And if you are a professional writer, you know this. Or at least you should.
Local. By hand. Small batches. Like our cakes and cookies. Like our gelato and dog treats. Like our pizzas and flatbreads made from spent grains. In fact, like practically everything we make. With the exception of crusty bread (which we made when we first opened but stopped making because we couldn't make it profitably), we are the DEFINITION of an artisan bakery.
So yes, that got my attention. I put my heart and soul into everything we make here, and it hurt. And I wondered how many readers might have noticed. And simply accepted the assumption that there were no artisan bakers in town. The writer has since apologized, but I'd guess the intensity of the gaff is much stronger than the apology. And more widely circulated.
My point? Words can hurt so choose them carefully.