October 9, 2015

About Ray Linville

Ray Linville writes and lectures on regional culture, including foodways and folklife. He has taught in the N.C. Community College System as a professor of English and humanities and served on the board of the N.C. Folklore Society. Read more about Ray’s ramblings at his blog: Sights, Sounds and Tastes of the American South.

Collard Shack Revisited

The luscious collard leaves at The Collard Shack can inspire any novice grower.

by Ray Linville A trip to the small town of Ayden is usually for wood-cooked barbecue because it’s the home to two of the state’s premier BBQ establishments – Skylight Inn and Bum’s Restaurant. However, when I traveled there, I was searching for The Collard Shack as much as I was for chopped whole hog barbecue.   In 2011 when David Cecelski wrote about The Collard Shack in one of his legacy posts on … [Read more...]

Where Food Is More Than Only Something to Eat

Chef-in-training Horace Pressley spreads a big smile when someone raves about his mac and cheese.

by Ray Linville Food is more than simply sustenance. Kitchens are more than places to prepare and eat meals. No place is better for demonstrating the value in society of food and kitchens than The King’s Kitchen in Charlotte, NC. As its customers enjoy the menu of the day, the unemployed, underemployed, difficult to employ, and recently released prison inmates learn culinary and food service … [Read more...]

Keeping Wild Foods in Our Culinary Culture

One of several entries made with artichokes, the cake won the category of fruits, nuts, and vegetation.

by Ray Linville Is cooking with wild foods out of place in today’s modern society? Because it’s so old-fashioned, I was surprised by how many kids had entered the Wild Food Cooking Contest in Richmond County.  It’s the event of the spring in Ellerbe, NC, when youth and adults show off their skills for cooking deer, moose, rabbit, beaver, squirrel, and other wild game. After the judges have scored each entry, … [Read more...]

Pruning Peach Orchards: A Lifetime Skill and Dedication

Twigs of blossoms just pruned from peach trees make a perfect spring centerpiece.

by Ray Linville Nothing says spring like the arrival of flower blossoms, particularly in the Sandhills and eastern North Carolina with blooms on acres and acres of peach trees. Many in North Carolina believe that our state’s peaches are the best (they’re right) and that peaches are native to the South (they’re wrong). Cultivated in China for more than 3,000 years, peaches arrived in the Americas in 1571 … [Read more...]

Making Mac and Cheese Better with N.C. Mountain Cheese

Excellent mac and cheese depends on cheese from Ashe County as shown by this dish prepared in a restaurant of Chef Ashley Christensen in Raleigh.

by Ray Linville What’s the most important ingredient in macaroni and cheese? Except for the love that the preparer personally adds, is one item more important than anything else? The questions may seem frivolous because today the recipe at home can be quite simple – unless you’re Thomas Jefferson, who was so consumed with serving the perfect macaroni that he bought a pasta-making machine in Europe. For his … [Read more...]

Enjoying Barbecue Prepared Like When You Were a Kid

A high billboard helps new customers know which exit to take to find Hill’s.

By Ray Linville Have you ever passed a restaurant, wondered how good its food is, but didn’t stop because you were saving money by not eating out? That’s my story about North Carolina barbecue when I was growing up. I grew up in the Piedmont in a stable but modest neighborhood of Winston-Salem. In the heart of “Lexington-style” barbecue, the closest restaurant was less than a mile from my house. Although it … [Read more...]

Would You Order Livermush at a Classic Family Diner?

A livermush sandwich for lunch at The Hub definitely sustains you all afternoon.

by Ray Linville Want to step back in time and explore early food traditions of our state? Then stop at a family-owned diner that has been in business for more than 50 years. When you do, expect to find items on the menu that link back to days long ago. The menu boards immediately caught my attention when I entered The Hub, a place popular for breakfast and lunch in Anson County. Located about 50 miles east … [Read more...]

Mobile Food for the Literati

Chick-N-Que served “Wicked Chicken,” spicy buffalo chicken tenders on a bun, at the festival as part of its menu.

By Ray Linville Where do you go for food when you’re at a literary festival on a weekend and the places open on weekdays are closed? When the N.C. Literary Festival was held this year in Raleigh, the answers to feed the hungry public were food trucks. The festival drew thousands to author readings and discussions, performances, book signings, and children activities. Can you imagine how hungry these events made … [Read more...]

Learning About Cheese Making (and Feeding a Baby Goat)

Newborn kids are part of the family for owner Linda Seligman who sleeps nearby. It takes about four hours to bottle-feed all the newborn babies.

by Ray Linville To watch cheese being made, taste some artisan cheese samples, and take home a package or two, I headed to the Blue Ridge area of our state to travel part of the Western North Carolina Cheese Trail. Little did I expect to be bottle-feeding a day-old baby goat. Within minutes after arriving at Round Mountain Creamery near Black Mountain, NC, I was holding a full bottle of warm milk for an eager kid … [Read more...]

Mountain Trout Is N.C. Good

Trout from Sunburst is enjoyed at home after the visit.

by Ray Linville Imagine fishing in a fast-flowing, rocky mountain stream and reeling in trout for dinner. Such experiences have always been part of the food culture in the Blue Ridge region, whether for the Cherokee with prehistoric ties to its hills and streams or the families who settled there after the Trail of Tears campaign evicted most Cherokee from their tribal territory. Visitors today can easily … [Read more...]