Taste the Freshness

March 2023


Go shrimping, pick peaches, and fry up green tomatoes. Tables overflow with what is grown or caught nearby. Savor these local ingredients and dishes whenever you can—whether you find them in a restaurant or at a local farm stand. 


Alabamians have a love-hate relationship with the state’s official dessert: Lane Cake. First, it takes quite a bit of time to make because of the many steps involved as well as the hours needed for it to set before serving. Second, in a state where dry counties still exist, the signature bourbon ingredient is sometimes perceived as “a little much.” Nevertheless, when the butter cake, layered with raisins, pecans, coconut (and bourbon), is served, foodies recognize why Emma Rylander Lane of Clayton, Alabama, earned first prize at a county baking competition more than 100 years ago. Author Harper Lee later immortalized the cake when she mentioned it in To Kill a Mockingbird. 


Shrimpers harvest pinks, whites and browns from the Gulf of Mexico year-round, ensuring only the freshest hit the plate. 


This versatile iced beverage pairs well with everything, but somehow it seems best appreciated on a front porch.


Two things define the Yellowhammer State’s ’cue: thick slabs of meaty ribs often cooked over direct heat and a condiment all its own. A mayonnaise-and-vinegar-based concoction developed by Big Bob Gibson that once “baptized” only chicken in Decatur has spread across the state and onto pork, too. Just ask for “the white sauce.”


While at Tuskegee Institute, George Washington Carver raised awareness of peanuts’ many uses. Today, Alabama is among the country’s top two peanut-producing states, behind Georgia. You’ll find plenty of places to try goober peas near Dothan, the self-proclaimed Peanut Capital of the World. Eat them boiled, the true Alabama way.


 A luxury until the mid-20th century, chicken, usually fried, is now a staple of the Alabama diet, thanks to the state’s burgeoning poultry industry. (It’s No. 2 in the country!)


Find them fresh, canned and cooked in pies, but cobbler and ice cream are favorites. Clanton in Chilton County is serious peach country.


Author Fannie Flagg made this dish famous in her novel Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, the inspiration for which is found in the real-life Irondale Café. Crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, fried green tomatoes are a symbol of the state’s agricultural heritage. Order them as a side for a meat and three or as an appetizer.


Homemade with real bananas and vanilla wafers, this creamy dessert has its roots in Mobile, where in the early 1900s, longshoremen unloaded bananas at the city’s docks and Mobile was the nation’s third-largest importer of the fruit. 


Pecan orchards dot roughly 30 counties in the state and occupy approximately 9,000 acres. Stop at farms on I-65 and in Baldwin and Mobile counties to sample the nut.


Prolific in Alabama rivers and lakes, catfish has long been a favorite catch, particularly channels, blues and flatheads, with some anglers saying they prefer bullheads. Whether they’re seasoned dry or doused in wet batter, you can’t go wrong with any of the species once they’re sizzling. Find the crispy deliciousness served statewide, often with lemon and tartar sauce. Coleslaw, hushpuppies or fries also might share the plate and palate.

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