Alabama Foodways: Looking at Food Traditions Across the State and in Our Own Kitchens

- Cauthen, Joyce
Foodways is a term we use when we talk about food as more than nutrition. When we think about the foods we eat on various occasions, how they fit into the lives of our families, and the stories associated with those foods — or wonder who in the next generation will cook them — we are thinking about our foodways. Some traditions, such as those associated with Thanksgiving Day, are practiced nationally; others pertain to large regions of the U.S., such as the South; others may be local to your county or carried on by just your family. This program focuses on local and unique traditions.

In this talk, Joyce Cauthen gives examples of foodways that she has collected across the state in previous Road Scholars presentations, such as unique names for foods coined by children, table graces, and sayings and superstitions passed around the dinner table. She also discusses foodways that are unique to various towns and counties in Alabama.

Given our relationship with certain foods, it is not surprising that they show up in our folk music. She and her husband Jim will perform — on fiddle and banjo or guitar — a few traditional tunes and songs about the foods mentioned in the talk. Cauthen concludes by asking audience members to share food stories and practices that are meaningful to their own families.