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Emily Blejwas to speak at Comer Library Wednesday


SYLACAUGA, Ala. – Comer Library’s SouthFirst Bank Adult Lecture Series will feature author/presenter Emily Blejwas with her story of 14 foods that play a role in defining Alabama history.

On Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020, author and presenter, Emily Blejwas will view Alabama history through the lens of fourteen foods that she has chosen to represent different regions of the state. Emily’s selection of fourteen foods, dishes and beverages for her book, The Story of Alabama in Fourteen Foods, will demonstrate the diversity of the state.

During her years of research, the author collected material that is part history, part travelogue, and part cookbook with one emblematic food, dish or beverage featured in each chapter of the book. Many of the food traditions that Emily will explore are deeply rooted in Alabama’s identity while others have national resonance. The author will use each of the emblematic foods as a medium through which to explore the diverse cultures and traditions of the state, demonstrating that food has been fundamental in developing our customs, cultures, regions, social and political movements, and events.

Blejwas will tell some of the better-known food traditions such as fried green tomatoes, Lane cake, fried chicken, barbecue and sweet potato pie. She will also delve into the roasted corn from the Porch Creeks and the gumbo from the Africans and the Creoles on the Gulf Coast as well as wild turkey from hunters. Regions of Alabama discussed will include the Gulf Coast, the Tennessee Valley, the docks of Mobile, Sand Mountain, the Wiregrass, the Black Belt, Bayou La Batre and more. Notable Alabama figures will be profiled, and Alabama’s rich food history unfolded through accounts of community events such as peanut boils, cane syrup making, and barbecue clubs. Drawing on historical research and interviews, Blejwas will detail myths, legends and truths which underlie Alabama’s beloved food-ways, allowing Alabamians to more fully understand their shared cultural heritage. The author will have books for sale for those who wish to read her story.

Emily Blejwas is from Minnesota, but she has Southern roots with both sets of grandparents from the South. She is the Director of the Gulf States Health Policy Center in Bayou La Batre. She previously worked for the Economic & Community Development Institute at Auburn University and the Community Foundation of South Alabama. She holds degrees from Auburn University and Kenyon College. Blejwas lives in Mobile with her husband and four children.

Tracey Thomas, Director of the Comer Library, invites everyone to come out to the SouthFirst Bank Adult Brown Bag Lecture Series. The refreshment room opens at 11:00 a.m., and participants are invited to bring a sandwich and enjoy drinks and desserts provided by volunteers, the library, and Hickory Street Café. Working people are invited to come by on their lunch break to enjoy programs which begin promptly at noon in the Harry I. Brown Auditorium.

For more information on the program, call 256-249-0961; visit; or email [email protected]. Seating is limited, so groups should make reservations.

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