New culinary tour book makes learning Alabama history a piece of cake

  • WHAT: Author Monica Tapper will be signing copies of the book on Feb. 3, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
  • WHERE: Alabama Tourism Department Gift Shop inside the Alabama Center for Commerce, 401 Adams Ave.

This story is part of the Montgomery Advertiser’s Black History Month series running throughout February. For more Black History Month stories, including digital-only features, visit montgomeryadvertiser.com.

The laughs, the smiles, the sounds of people chatting and plates clattering. Imagine what the 1950s must have been like inside Georgia Gilmore’s Montgomery home as she fed civil rights leaders and foot soldiers, and helped fund the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

Along with the regular offerings from the kitchen of “Big Mama” was a rich, dreamy pound cake that even Martin Luther King Jr. enjoyed. 

Poundcake made from the recipe of Montgomery civil rights activist and cook Georgia Gilmore.

Now you can too.

“I love the fact that you and I can eat what they ate,” said Monica Tapper, author of the new book “A Culinary Tour Through Alabama History.”

Tapper will be signing copies of the book on Feb. 3, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. in Montgomery at the Alabama Tourism Department Gift Shop inside the Alabama Center for Commerce, 401 Adams Ave.

Monica Tapper's new book "A Culinary Tour Through Alabama History."

More about Georgia Gilmore:Plenty with little and most without a lot: Lessons from Georgia Gilmore

Though Gilmore’s pound cake recipe is among several included, this not a cookbook.  Tapper said she wouldn’t feel right calling it that, since she doesn’t cook. Tapper had a friend to help her go through the recipes and prepare several dishes from Alabama’s past.

The historic marker at the former home of Georgia Gilmore in Montgomery, Ala., is seen on Monday August 10, 2020.

“This is about the history through the food,” said Tapper, who described her work as a travel book. “This is a way for you to get out and see the state”

For instance, fruity jars of sweetmeats — something akin to jelly or jam, but with a taste and texture all its own — were a favorite Alabama’s first lady Sarah Gayle in 1832, and of Tapper today.

“I thoroughly enjoyed that,” Tapper said. 

Jars of sweetmeats made from fruit.

Some other recipes weren’t to Tapper’s taste, especially coffee made from okra seeds. This became a thing during the Civil War, when coffee drinkers suddenly found themselves with no actual coffee. Tapper said they tried a variety of locally sourced ways to try to make it. 

“Okra coffee was by far the most foul thing I’ve ever had in my life,” said Tapper. While it smells like regular coffee, the okra version is very bitter. “I do not recommend it.”

https://www.montgomeryadvertiser.com/story/news/2022/02/01/new-culinary-tour-book-makes-learning-alabama-history-piece-cake/9204611002/

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