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Common recipes, common stories
Exhibit explores food and the bonds it creates
This image by Dahlonega-based photographer Jim Fambrough is one of several food-inspired works that greet visitors to North Georgia College & State University’s new exhibit, "Key Ingredients: American By Food." - photo by For The Times

‘Key Ingredients: America by Food’

When: Through April 11
Where: Library Technology Center, North Georgia College & State University, 82 College Circle, Dahlonega
How much: Free
More info: 706-864-1540

A few events related to ‘Key Ingredients: America by Food’

‘Family, Church and Farmin’: Living off the Land in Lumpkin County’

What: Interactive oral history exhibit. Visitors can listen to Lumpkin county residents talk about how food has affected their lives and add their own oral histories to the exhibit. Organized by documentarian Heavenly Littleton.
When: Through April 11
Where: Library Technology Center, third floor, NGCSU, 82 College Circle, Dahlonega
How much: Free

Photography exhibit

What: Photographer Bard Wrisley photographed Lumpkin county residents as they contributed oral histories.
When: Noon to 5 p.m. Wednesdays-Sundays through April 11
Where: Kryder Gallery, 40B Public Square S., Dahlonega
How much: Free
More info: 706-482-0204 or

‘Folks and Food: From Feast to Famine’

What: Artwork of various media by art students at NGCSU which focuses on artists’ association with food
When: March 26-April 23
Where: Bob Owens Art Gallery, Hoag Student Center, NGCSU, 82 College Circle, Dahlonega
How much: Free

Seed Swap and Talk

What: Bring your seeds to trade and listen to an heirloom seed expert
When: 11 a.m. March 28
Where: Vickery House, corner of W. Main St. and Vickery Drive, Dahlonega
How much: Free
More info: 706-864-1540

Jappalachian Cooking

What: Sayuri and Joe Adams of Revival Gardens Certified Organic Produce will teach their family style of cooking, which combines Appalachian and Japanese mountain foods. Learn to prepare fresh harvested greens like kale and collards in hot and cold dishes.
When: 10 a.m. Saturday
Where: Dahlonega Community House, 111 N. Park St., Dahlonega
How much: $20; preregistration required
More info: 706-864-1918

Crispy fried chicken. Green beans, with bacon for flavor. Fluffy biscuits and gravy.

If you’re from the South, these aren’t just descriptions of food. They’re memories — the smell of Grandma’s house or your overflowing plate at the church get-together.

Here, food isn’t just for nourishment. It’s a heritage that we pass across the table and down to later generations.

"Key Ingredients: America by Food," a traveling Smithsonian exhibit now on display at North Georgia College & State University in Dahlonega, examines the role of food in the lives of Americans.

Alice Sampson, director of the Appalachian Studies Center at NGCSU, said local displays created for the exhibit make it relevant to North Georgia.

Sampson said the exhibit is considered "flat," with large panels which show how Americans process, eat and relate to food.

"The exhibit itself has a very national focus on American food ways, looking at canning and transportation, holidays, the history of food in our national community," she said. "And then each community is invited to take it and put their own spin on it."

"Key Ingredients" is the first major exhibit organized by the Appalachian Studies Center and the first exhibit at NGCSU’s new Library Technology Center.

Sampson said the exhibit suits the goals of the Appalachian Studies Center.

"We have several goals. One is to honor diversity. One is to preserve and share Appalachian culture ... and also to a be a resource to the community. And we see this as a good resource, especially with the other events supporting the exhibit," Sampson said.

Events like a "Jappalachian" cooking demonstration, a class that combines Appalachian and Japanese mountain cuisine set for Saturday, help bring the exhibit to life.

Sampson said she hopes the exhibit will also open the door to visitors who are curious about the new library.

As guests enter the library and begin walking up the stairs, mixed-media fruit and vegetable artwork by Jim Fambrough will greet them.

"His fruit and vegetables are so exciting. There’s a ‘Wow,’ when you walk up," Sampson said.

On the third floor where the exhibit is located, more of Fambrough’s work sits opposite pen-and-ink drawings by June Koehler, which will be auctioned off by NGCSU’s art club.

Even younger guests can learn from the exhibit, which has a pretend kitchen created by art education students.

"I watched a 2-year-old at the ribbon cutting literally play for an hour in this kitchen," Sampson said.

"The place mats were woven by the weaving class here on campus," she added. "They have the plastic knife, the fork and spoon and the paper napkin and a plate so that they can sit down and serve themselves."

Sampson said children who play in the exhibit will find surprises like a paper mâché oven tin filled with pretend muffins in the oven, and turkey legs in the refrigerator.

Kids can also learn about healthy eating with large, interactive food pyramids.

"Kids are invited to go and look in these pockets of felt food, like eggs and vegetables and ice cream, and they decide where it goes on the food pyramid," Sampson said.

She said teachers can bring classes on Tuesdays and Fridays to view the exhibit; groups can be booked through the Dahlonega Gold Museum.

About 150 people helped with the exhibit and related activities, which also goes along with the Appalachian Studies Center’s goal to promote a sense of community.

"I think food is a common theme we all have. Food is evocative. It gets people to share stories," she said.

"It brings together these common experiences and helps people understand what they have in common."

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