Tuscaloosa is not a great food town


Joshua Sussman, Staff Columnist

All the food here tastes the same. All of it. The cheap stuff has the same flavors, the same blandness to it. The pretendy, upper-middle-class stuff like Panera Bread or Olive Garden all has the same laced-with-preservatives flavors to it. Even the store-bought stuff all tastes alike.

I went on a soul-searching food quest last year. I ate around town. I tried to find some place that stood out, some place that had unique flavors, or rather, actual flavors. I failed. All last year I searched – both semesters, from front to back, and I found nothing.

I wound up eating a lot of Popeyes, because at least the fish was slightly different in comparison to everything else. This year I’ve eaten a lot of buffalo wings for the same reason. It all tastes the same, but at least there is a slight difference to everything else.

“But Joshua!” I hear you cry. “There’s this restaurant I really like! It tastes different! I really like it! You’re probably just a snob that doesn’t know good food when it passes down his overly critical food hole!”

Listen buddy, I may be a snob, but that doesn’t mean I don’t know good food when I eat it. I love good food. Good food is a beautiful expression of art. It’s not just taste, but texture and consistency –  the way the sours or the sweets mix and mingle with the bitters and the salts, all while being crunchy, chewy, stringy, soft or some combination in between. Good food can be a grand expression of culinary skill, like the steaks one might find in a three-star restaurant, or it might be something as simple as the taste of freshly baked bread, coated with butter. The taste of good food, especially if it comes out looking good and smelling great, is a pleasure beyond compare. A pleasure that this stupid town seems determined to deny me.

But let’s just say, for the sake of argument, that you have a point. There is some restaurant out there that I missed in Tuscaloosa/Northport that has genuinely decent food that doesn’t taste exactly like the rest of the slop in this heavily divided, have and have-not, occasionally deeply corrupt burg out in the middle of sweet home Alabama. In that case, send me the name of the place. I mean it. I almost certainly have tried the food at the place you have in mind, but I am desperately open to suggestions. Name a place. If I haven’t been there, I’ll try it. I’ll probably hate it, but I’ll try it.

I am open to, and desperate for, suggestions. I’m making my own food right now, but there are occasions when I want to eat out. These occasions always disappoint, likely because all the food tastes the same. So, if anyone out there can offer some help, I’ll be glad for it.

And no, I’m not sure when this column transitioned from an opinion piece to me begging strangers for help, but just go with it, OK? Just. Go with it.