Looking back, looking forward

January 4, 2021

I was so pleasantly surprised and honored to find myself included among Reno Gazette-Journal columnist Sheila Leslie’s list of Heroes to inspire Northern Nevada in 2021 with some very kind words she wrote about me and my efforts to keep the community informed about Reno development, historic preservation, and related issues. You can read the full column at the above link.

Sheila Leslie’s column in the Reno Gazette-Journal was published online on December 23, 2020 (click on the image to link to the full piece).

I’m so grateful for the support, and encourage anyone who shares these interests to sign up for my upcoming free newsletter, The Barber Brief, where I’ll offer information, research, and analysis to promote greater citizen participation in issues related to Reno’s development. Happy New Year!

Join me for these events in September 2018!

This September brings an abundance of literary and historical activities to the Biggest Little City, and I’m thrilled to be participating in so many of them with fellow readers, writers, and lovers of history! From the Nevada Humanities Literary Crawl to my curatorial talk for Reno’s Sesquicentennial at the University of Nevada, Reno to chatting about writing about Reno with one of its best contemporary authors, I hope you’ll join me. They’re all FREE!

Nevada Humanities Literary Crawl: Saturday, September 15th, 12-8 pm, various locations. FREE

First up is the Nevada Humanities Literary Crawl on Saturday, September 15th. This is such a fun annual event, combining readings and literary panels with food, drink, and general carousing. My panel this year is all about food writing (in my case, for the Food Network, edible Reno-Tahoe, and America: The Cookbook), and I’ll be sharing the stage at the Washoe Public House with the fabulous Sharon Honig-Bear of edible Reno-Tahoe and Michael Tragash of Yelp from 1:30-2:15 pm. More information and a full schedule can be found on the Nevada Humanities website. Plan to make a day of it!

Reno at the Crossroads: 150 Years at Reno’s Shifting Center: Sunday, September 16th, 2-4 pm, Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center, UNR campus. FREE

On the afternoon of Sunday, September 16th, I’ll be giving a highly visual talk about Reno’s changing downtown at the Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center. This is in conjunction with the exhibit I curated there on all five floors of the main library at the University of Nevada, Reno. You can read more on the exhibit here.

I’ll be focusing on Reno’s downtown, a perennial source of discussion and sometimes frustration, using all the photos and maps that I can fit in. Here’s the official description:

The talk will be from 2-3 pm, followed by refreshments and plenty of time to wander through the five floors of the exhibit. Parking is free on weekends, and for this Sunday only, the exhibit room in the Special Collections will be open, allowing you to see some of the show’s best components! RSVPs are encouraged but not required.

Writing Reno with Ben Rogers and Dr. Alicia Barber: Tuesday, September 25th, 6:30 pm at Sundance Books & Music, 121 California Avenue. FREE

I’m excited to finish off this September’s events with an evening with my friend, the writer Ben Rogers on Tuesday, September 25th. I’ll let Sundance Books explain what we’ll be up to:

“To celebrate the long-awaited reissue of The Flamer, the beloved debut novel by Ben Rogers, we are proud to present Writing Reno, a community book talk with Rogers and Reno historian Dr. Alicia Barber.

Dr. Barber and Rogers will discuss what makes Reno such an interesting setting for a novel, and what makes it so worthy of our interest and inquiry, from both an artistic and historical perspective. Community members will gain deeper insight into how setting impacts the novel, and why Dr. Barber and Rogers are drawn to exploring Reno through their writing.”

For more information on this event, head to the Sundance Books & Music website.

And as the song goes, see you in September!

Nevada’s Iconic Dishes

Late last year, I was invited to contribute a feature for FoodNetwork.com on iconic dishes of Nevada and where to find them. Defining Nevada’s iconic dishes has always been something of a challenge, and I’ve taken it on to varying degrees in the past as a columnist for edible Reno-Tahoe and in occasional impassioned, Bourbon-fueled late-night conversations with friends.

The Silver State doesn’t have an obvious cuisine like, say, Louisiana (who CAN’T rattle off ten iconic Louisiana dishes in thirty seconds?)  or Maine (lobster, crab cakes, blueberries…). The difficulty of identifying regional dishes is not unusual in the American West, whose population has long been comprised of a mix of diverse native and immigrant groups, none especially dominant since statehood. But that’s no consolation with the clock ticking away toward a deadline and a blank screen staring you in the face.

So what’s a food-loving cultural historian to do?

Taking the word “iconic” to heart, I thought about the dishes many associate with Nevada, for a number of reasons–foods connected to varying aspects of the state’s culture, from casinos to ranching to mining; foods associated with communities with a longstanding Nevada heritage, from Native American to Basque; and iconic dishes found at some of the state’s most beloved restaurants.

And so, after several months researching eateries, chatting with chefs and staff, savoring bites and sips, and securing photos of all those tasty tidbits, we have a list. It may not be definitive, but it hopefully speaks to the eclecticism that is the Nevada culinary landscape–and I hope will inspire others to embark upon their own foodie tours of Nevada. And if you happen to get down to Dirty Dick’s saloon in Belmont for their signature Bloody Mary, tell Diana I said hi.