Wade on Birmingham

Birmingham’s Best Eats: Three lessons from the series


Birmingham's Best Eats

Great food writing, like great food, leaves you stuffed, but still wanting more.

In August, we featured Birmingham’s Best Eats, a daily look at food around town. Our team of bloggers shared new recipes, cooking ideas, restaurants, even obscure food finds. I learned so much from them that I wanted to pass along the lessons from the series.

1. One of Birmingham’s hidden strengths is food. Living here makes it somewhat difficult to gain perspective, but Birmingham is a destination for dining. The metro area is written up regularly by travel writers in national and regional publications. Sure, the obligatory civil rights struggles are always mentioned, but usually followed by a rave about a Frank Stitt operation or a barbecue joint in town.

We continue to find our way as a city, in direction, in leadership, in education, in jobs. But in food, we are strong. We boast diversity in types, prices and ethnic choices. We continue to expand in both homegrown and chain restaurants.

And more importantly, we value the importance of knowing food well. What is food’s true cost? Where did it come from? How was it prepared? How do we make it better at home?

2. We have much more to learn (and teach) when it comes to food. Many of my friends are foodies. As such, it’s easy to assume everyone knows their way around the kitchen or a menu.

During our special Best Eats live chat, I was reminded that while interest has grown in different ways to nourish ourselves, uncertainty remains a common deterrent. So if you’re looking to try a new type of dining — Indian, sushi, soul food — you might not immediately run to the nearest restaurant and attempt to decipher the menu.

If you don’t cook regularly, you might feel overwhelmed at trying a complicated new recipe. Talking about all these Birmingham food options is fine and wonderful — unless everyone isn’t speaking the same language.

As food bloggers, we must continue to reach out to those who want to learn more but aren’t sure about the next step. And we must share everything we can about food, everything we love about growing it, cooking it, eating it.

If you want to learn more about food, ask questions. Have a friend go with you to that untried restaurant to help you make good choices on the menu. Take a class, visit a farmer’s market and write about your experiences online.

3. We’ve barely begun. We covered a lot of territory in 31 days. But we also left a lot unsaid.

  • What is a food desert, and how does this affect Birmingham? Who is working on the issue?
  • Who are the up-and-coming professional chefs in town?
  • Where are the best places to take cooking classes?
  • Which farmer’s market has the best selection? the best prices? the most variety?
  • What Birmingham needs in terms of dining options is …

Maybe you can be the next great food blogger to answer these questions.

If you love food, join us at the table. We have plenty of room.

What do you want to explore when it comes to Birmingham’s best eats? Let us know in the comments.

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Hungry for more? Check out the menu of Birmingham’s Best Eats!

Photo by Kenny Louie, Creative Commons 2.0 license.

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