April 21, 2014

About Ray Linville

Ray Linville is an associate professor of English and humanities at Sandhills Community College in Pinehurst, NC, and serves 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.

Simmering Stew Brings a Community Together

A tasty pot of Brunswick stew draws a crowd in Mount Gilead.

by Ray Linville The center of small town is not always a town hall, courthouse, or church. Sometimes it’s a pot of bubbling stew as it is each fall in Mount Gilead, a community of slightly more than 1,000 residents in Montgomery County. Although the community is small, just about everyone knows about the Brunswick stew served when Brown’s Hardware has its open house. Incorporated in 1899, Mount Gilead … [Read more...]

Sweet Potatoes: Providing Fresh Food for the Needy

Sweet potatoes number in the hundreds of varieties that range from white and mild to dark red and very sweet. Omar Quintamilla, driver of the truck, cuts open a sweet potato to show that it is a white variety.

by Ray Linville North Carolina produces about half of all the sweet potatoes grown in the United States, and it has consistently ranked as the top producing state for more than 30 years. More than half of the state’s sweet potatoes are grown in only three counties – Sampson, Nash, and Johnston. These counties in eastern N.C. are prime growing locations with their rich, fertile soil and their hot, moist … [Read more...]

Lumbee Fish Market: As Fresh as Being on the Coast

A quick fry prepares the croaker for supper.

by Ray Linville Drive to the beach along U.S. Highway 74 and tune in a local radio station. If you do, you might hear an ad for Lumbee Fish Market in Pembroke  that is so intriguing that you want to visit. It’s a market with fish that you might not expect in a location about two hours inland from coastal waters. Native Americans have lived in this region for centuries because streams and artesian wells … [Read more...]

Time for Persimmon Pudding

Persimmons recently picked and on display at the Colfax Persimmon Festival.

by Ray Linville Cool temperatures mean fall fruits and vegetables. When the summer temperatures drop, one tree becomes more noticeable as its round fruit ripens and takes on an orange-brown hue. Is it time to pick persimmons and make pudding? Many of us remember days from childhood when we asked if the persimmons could be picked. Impatiently we had to wait until the fruit was ready. Picked too early, persimmons … [Read more...]

Food, Service, and Prices from Yesterday at the Chicken Coop

Dinners come in nondescript thin white boxes adorned only with Price’s menu printed in red on them.

by Ray Linville A few places serving food in our state are caught in a time warp and remain unchanged since the days that they opened. Price’s Chicken Coop, established in 1962, in the South End of Charlotte is definitely one. Seeing the name of Chicken Coop, you know exactly what to order. The classic southern dish is fried chicken. Although just about every home in the South has a favorite family recipe, in … [Read more...]

New Farmers in North Carolina: Karen Refugees

Before being placed in the ground, plants are nurtured in the greenhouse by Karen farmers

by Ray Linville More than 14,000 refugees have been resettled in North Carolina in the past decade, according to the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement. As these refugee communities grow, they are beginning to transform food traditions of our state and expand the agricultural offerings at farmers’ markets and farm-to-home deliveries provided through community-supported agriculture. Just last year more than 2,000 … [Read more...]

Festival of the Peach: Candor Is the Scene

Fresh peaches in quantities from a quart to half bushel are ready to take home.

Communities that spread over a multi-county area often unite each year for a common celebration. For the N.C. peach community, that event occurs on the third Saturday in July in Candor, a small town in Montgomery County that brings everyone in the peach-growing Sandhills region together. Although Candor is the home of fewer than 900 residents, it hosts the N.C. Peach Festival because the peach is so important to its … [Read more...]

Heirloom Seeds and Plants: Preserving State Food Traditions

heirloom_winneratncstatefair

Do you wish that you could grow the same vegetables that Grandma grew? The flavors that she tasted and the nutrients that she enjoyed are legendary, and many of us reminisce about how we miss the flavors of yesteryear. Because this desire to appreciate traditional foods is growing, a cultural movement to preserve heirloom seeds and plants has slowly but increasingly developed in our state. Efforts in the western … [Read more...]

Finding the Source of Your Food

Farm tour sign directs visitors upon arrival to the farm property,
which includes the 150-year-old farmhouse in the background.

by Ray Linville When you eat in a restaurant, do you think about the farms that provide your meal? An excellent way to visit the source of your food is the annual farm tours conducted in our state. Earlier this year I explored several farms as part of the Piedmont Farm Tour, held on the final weekend every April by the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association. This tour is one of two in North Carolina – the other … [Read more...]

Grilling on the Side of the Highway

The sign on the side of the road says it all.

by Ray Linville What makes our state so special for grilling ribs? Most of us can remember our first cookout when someone in the family, neighborhood, or church served home-cooked ribs. They were so tender that the meat literally fell off the bones. The homemade sauce was delicious, and often the recipe was a secret not to be shared. Some of us can't wait for the next home-cooked ribs, yet we do have to wait … [Read more...]