The Story of Alabama in Fourteen Foods

Alabama’s history and culture revealed through fourteen iconic foods, dishes, and beverages.

The Story of Alabama in Fourteen Foods explores well-known Alabama  food traditions to reveal salient histories of the state in a new way. In this book that is part history, part travelogue, and part cookbook, Emily Blejwas pays homage to fourteen emblematic foods, dishes, and beverages, one per chapter, as a lens for exploring the diverse cultures and traditions of the state.

Throughout Alabama’s history, food traditions have been fundamental  to its customs, cultures, regions, social and political movements, and events. Each featured food is deeply rooted in Alabama identity and has a story with both local and national resonance. Blejwas focuses on lesser-known food stories from around the state, illuminating the lives of a diverse populace: Poarch Creeks, Creoles of color, wild turkey hunters, civil rights activists, Alabama club women, frontier squatters, Mardi Gras revelers, sharecroppers, and Vietnamese American shrimpers, among others. A number of Alabama figures noted for their special contributions to the state’s foodways, such  as George Washington Carver and Georgia Gilmore, are profiled as well. Alabama’s rich food history also unfolds through accounts of community events and a food-based economy. Highlights include Sumter County barbecue clubs, Mobile’s banana docks, Appalachian Decoration Days, cane syrup making, peanut boils, and eggnog parties.

Drawing on historical research and interviews with home cooks, chefs, and community members cooking at local gatherings and for holidays, Blejwas details the myths, legends, and truths underlying Alabama’s beloved foodways. With nearly fifty color illustrations and fifteen recipes, The Story of Alabama in Fourteen Foods will allow all Alabamians to more fully understand their shared cultural heritage.

Emily Blejwas is author of the novel Once You Know This and director of the Gulf States Health Policy Center in Bayou La Batre, Alabama.

“Great history of Alabama and its fabulous food!” —Fannie Flagg

“Through the lens of food, The Story of Alabama in Fourteen Foods explores in vivid detail cultural groups across the state, revealing not only recipes for traditional dishes but also for survival and success during difficult times. Readers who already know Alabama history well will find this approach interesting and refreshing.” —Joyce H. Cauthen, author of Out of Whole Cloth: The Life of Bettye Kimbrell and With Fiddle and Well-Rosined Bow: A History of Old-Time Fiddling in Alabama


“Offers a compelling, rich journey through the state’s history and an unusual approach to our understanding of the past. It will make a wonderful contribution to culinary history and the history of Alabama.” —Susan Tucker, author of City of Remembering: A History of Genealogy in New Orleans and editor of New Orleans Cuisine: Fourteen Signature Dishes and Their Histories