I don’t know about you, but the extended time at home sure has put food on my mind more than normal. Sure, I’ve enjoyed making from-scratch biscuits for my family more often, but there’s something to be said for enjoying the atmosphere of our delicious restaurants in Tuscaloosa and Northport.

I don’t normally like loud places, but I promise you once this quarantine is over, I can’t wait to eat in the hustle and bustle of DePalma’s, Avenue Pub, and FIVE restaurants. And trying to balance seeing patients from home while wrangling a boisterous toddler is making me more antsy than ever to get out of the house.

I know I’m not the only one. So, I decided to chat with some other Tuscaloosa folks to see what foods they’re eating and what they can’t wait to eat soon.

Traditional Thanksgiving favorites such as turkey, pumpkin pie, and sweet potato casserole are staples to be expected on every table during that certain Thursday in November. However, every family seems to have their own spin on Thanksgiving with one or two dishes that are their special traditions.  

For me as a proud Filipino American, you can expect to have all your traditional Thanksgiving dishes plus the flair of Filipino food. Egg rolls, pancit (a rice noodle dish), and steamed rice are just as expected as cranberry sauce and green bean casserole. Turns out, I have some other friends in Tuscaloosa that have their own “family flair” with some unexpected Thanksgiving dishes. 

It’s abundantly clear we have plenty of foodies in T-Town, but exactly how does one raise a future foodie? I’ll admit, now that I’ve joined the mom club, I’ve realized that raising a “good eater” is not a cake walk. 

However, through my experience with my own kiddo and after getting advice from my experienced mom friends, I’ve got some great advice to share in raising your own future foodie at home. And if your child is on the older side, and you’re feeling like it’s too late to raise a foodie, take heart. I didn’t start to love vegetables or cooking until I reached college. 

Here are four tips for raising up a future gourmand. 

Ever wonder what a restaurant owner eats when they’re not at their own establishment? I’ve talked to several T-town foodies over the past few months, but I knew it was time to talk to someone that our foodies rave about. 

Tuscaloosa’s own Craig Williams was kind enough to entertain my questions despite his demanding role as owner of Avenue Pub and Central Mesa. He had some outstanding recommendations for excellent local dishes to try at restaurants in downtown Tuscaloosa. 

I can’t tell you how fun it has been catching up with my fellow foodies of Tuscaloosa to talk all things food! This month, my pal Deidre Stalnaker, Director of Communications at The University of Alabama, dishes on her love of local food. 

How would you describe your food personality? 

 
Eclectic. My likes are all over the place. Growing up, my father was in the Army, so we moved around a bit. We’d be eating my Nanny’s fried chicken livers down in Prattville, schnitzel and hot potato salad in Landstuhl, Germany, sloppy Joes in Olympia, Washington, (I was in first grade and there was a restaurant that specialized in them) – and everything in between.  

 

My dad and I recently tried the lengua tacos from the Mexican market on Veteran’s Parkway. They’re good if you can distract yourself from the fact it’s a cow’s tongue!  

 

What is your favorite home cooked item? Any special story behind it? 
 

I don’t have just one favorite, but one of my favorites is squash casserole. When I was little, I wouldn’t eat it because I thought it looked gross. My dad told me to try it and if I didn’t like it, he’d give me a dollar. Best time I ever lost money.  

 

Do you like to cook? If not, who is your favorite cook in your life? 

 
I like to cook on occasion. The fact that I don’t have to everyday makes it more fun. My favorite cook of all time is my grandmother, Nanny Stalnaker. She didn’t have a recipe for anything, she just knew.  

 

What is your favorite dish in Tuscaloosa? 

 
The brisket tacos at River. River’s menu changes seasonally, so they may not always have them. The tamales from the Mexican food truck on the UA campus is a close second. 

It’s easy to find T-Town foodies. They’re everywhere! This month was no exception. I had the pleasure of chatting with the lovely Amanda Lightsey, who currently serves as Executive Director of Tuscaloosa’s One Place, an organization known well for serving children and families in the Tuscaloosa community. She was quick to answer all my pressing food-related questions! 

As a self-proclaimed foodie, I love finding other folks around town that love food as much as I do. Truth be told, Tuscaloosa has a whole host of individuals that are passionate about the dishes served up in T-town’s finest restaurants, as well as having a life rich with stories of home cooked favorites.  

This month, I decided to feature a fellow T-town foodie, Patricia Powe. She’s well-known for her commitment to United Way, and she serves as Director of Financial Affairs for the College of Education at the University of Alabama. 

Every couple, it seems, has this discussion: Where do you want to eat tonight? We’re all after the best place to enjoy a great meal. As one of the newest eateries in Tuscaloosa, Half Shell Oyster House is a strong contender.  

As I mentioned last month, I have recently entered the world of full-time working mom. Unfortunately, my son didn’t get the memo about mom’s return to work, so life continues to go full throttle into this new year. Luckily for me, and the rest of the Tuscaloosa community, a heaven-sent business has opened up to feed all us busy folk in T-town! 

It’s football season, and that means two things: it’s time to Roll with the Tide in BDS – and it’s time to eat! Whether you’re a hungry out-of-towner or a local, everyone can agree that Tuscaloosa offers up some of the best game day eats around. Here are some of my favorite suggestions for places to grab a bite – before or after the game. RTR! 

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Druid City Living (DCL) is Tuscaloosa, Alabama's premier community newspaper, covering the great people, places and activities of the area.

 

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