- My Town
How Tallahassee Beat the Old South at Its Own Game
On the battleground of an epic presidential election, George W. Bush may have claimed the state by 537 votes, but Al Gore will always have Tallahassee.
It was the “Wop Salad” on the menu that drew my wife, Nina’s, attention—and then ire.
“It’s got EYE-talian dressing,’’ a defensive waitress explained to us at the old Talquin Inn, named for a strategic midpoint between Tallahassee and Quincy at the gateway to Florida’s rural Panhandle. The catfish was fried, the wine list BYOB.
This dish was no anomaly. Gloria Jahoda, a writer and historian who moved to Tallahassee in the 1960s with her professor-husband, discovered this jarring menu offering—and more alarming things—in an exploration across the state’s rural northern tier. She reported on her journey in a 1967 book, The Other Florida.
Yet in the 20 years we lived in Florida’s state capital, arriving in the mid-1980s to work at newspapering and