Food Traditions: Pierogis, Kolachis, and Front-Yard Barbeques

“See, okay, the thing is, you better know that in this country nobody eats in the front yard. Really. Nobody” –Diana Abu-Jaber, “A House and a Yard”


Food traditions surround every culture. Whether this means barbequing in your front yard to the dismay of your neighbors, like Diana Abu-Jaber explains in “A House and a Yard,” or gathering around the table for turkey and stuffing on Thanksgiving, or cracking crawfish with your hands at a backyard crawfish boil, we all grew up with our own sense of “normal” when it comes to food. As explained in “A House and a Yard,” Abu-Jaber felt ashamed of her traditional Middle Eastern fare when she realized that it wasn’t the norm in her American suburb. Her family’s grilled meats, tabbouleh salad, and skewers of veggies weren’t typical American cuisine, which thus segregated her family from the rest of the neighborhood and caused her great distress.

Have you ever had a moment where you realized what you thought was so normal and traditional, in fact, wasn’t? Maybe you haven’t barbequed in your front yard like Abu-Jaber, but I can guarantee you have had at least a split second when your sense of culinary normalcy was shattered. Continue reading


Sweet Home Food Bar: Brunch Bound Downtown

Address: 2218 University Blvd, Tuscaloosa, Al 35401

In a town that is as steeped in tradition as Tuscaloosa, one may think it isn’t open to passing food fads. Yet, a hip brunch location has found its home in this traditional southern town. Nestled near the Black Warrior Brewing Company, the frosted glass and welcoming patio furniture of Sweet Home Food Bar beckon the downtown crowd to a restaurant that brings a new perspective to the local food scene. While it is off University and only a mere minutes walk from many Tuscaloosa staples, this emerging favorite with its fresh fad foods and hip interior has cornered the market on trendy brunch. Continue reading

Into the Orchard: Apple-Carrot Leather

“Tomorrow we will can plums, and the next day we’ll start on the peaches. We’ve only got eighty-three lids left, so all too soon this sweltering work will be over, and everything we can’t cram under a lid will be left to rot in the summer sun.”

–Jean Hegland, Into the Forest


Jean Hegland’s Into the Forest, a book about survival and family and youth, is also at times a book about food. In the midst of an indefinitely long power outage and miles from even the nearest neighbor, sisters Nell and Eva must struggle to live. At first, they merely ration the food they have in the house, assuming the power will return. Their diet is limited: beans, rice, flour, eggs retrieved from the family chickens, and vegetables canned by their father. Protagonist Nell savors cups of tea made from a fraction of a teabag and craves hot dogs, waiting for the lifestyle she knows to return.

It doesn’t. Continue reading

Cultivating a Future: Security in Local Food

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                  “My college education may or may not land me a good job down the road, but                                           my farm education will serve me. The choices I make now about my food                                                                                        will influence the rest of my life.”                                                                                                                   —Camille Kingsolver, “Taking Local on the Road”

In her essay “Taking Local on the Road,” Camille Kingsolver describes her experience transitioning from her family’s farm to her first year of college. For Kingsolver, moving from her home, where fresh, local food was the norm to a campus dormitory, where such products were much rarer, was an eye-opening experience. “Not having fresh produce at my disposal made me realize how good it is,” (37) she comments early in the piece.

She discusses her realization of the importance of fresh, local food in her life, praising the “eggs with deep golden yolks” and “greens that still had their flavor and crunch” (38) that she enjoys in her family’s household. She also recalls her surprise at realizing that her college peers were relatively unaware of the origin of their meals, often relying “on foods that come out of shiny wrappers instead of peels or skins” (37). Continue reading