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Alabama Humanities Alliance awards grant to Newbern Library for upcoming food program


The Newbern Library recently was awarded a grant from the Alabama Humanities Alliance, a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, for an upcoming event October 21 and 22, 2022, called “Food for Thought: A journey through food history, culture & taste.”

Partnering with AU’s Rural Studio and Black Belt Food Project, the Library will host the two-day program to explore food in Alabama’s history and culture and to provide opportunities for participants to discuss food traditions.

Friday night, Oct. 21, at 6:30 pm in the Newbern Library author Emily Blejwas will discuss and show pictures from her book The Story of Alabama in Fourteen Foods, emphasizing the variety of traditional foods and beverages that Alabamians have created and enjoyed over many generations. The Friends of the Library will provide light refreshments reflecting recipes from the book.

On Saturday morning the program moves to the Rural Studio campus with activities beginning at 10:00 am. Participants will circulate among three venues at the Rural Studio headquarters: a tour of the organic garden by Farm Manager Eric Ball, a food tasting featuring unusual spice blends, and a food expo with regional producers, farmers, and organizations working to create a more diverse and open food community. There will also be a seed swap sponsored by the Hale County Library.


After the morning’s activities participants will enjoy a special lunch created by chef Halima Salazar of Gimbias Kitchen in Oxford, Mississippi and chef Sarah Cole of Abadir’s in Greensboro. They will be using local foods prepared with spices and techniques common in North and West African cooking. Also Ms. Salazar will explain the influence of West African cooking on rural Southern cuisine.

While the weekend is a free event and open to everyone, people are asked to make a reservation for the lunch on Saturday in order to ensure plentiful food quantities. Reservations can be made online at blackbeltfoodproject@gmail.com or at the Newbern Library in person or by phone 334-624-4880.

Funding from the Alabama Humanities Alliance and in-kind community support enable this event to be available to all. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed during this event do not necessarily represent those of the Alabama Humanities Alliance or the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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