September 28, 2016

NCFOOD is the North Carolina Folklife Institute’s blog exploring our state’s traditional cooking and foodways. Every highway and byway in the state is a potential jumping off point for a food adventure, whether discovering the Restaurante Rosa de Saron in Sampson County or the Pakse Café in Greensboro.

You’ll find stories and personal experiences about farmers and food artisans, local recipes, and great traditional eateries -- a celebration of the rich and diverse food traditions of North Carolina. Celebrate the magic that happens when many cultures come together around a common table.

Collard Eating as a Community Sport

Text and photos by Ray Linville Would you compete in a collard-eating contest? It’s an event I would rather watch, particularly after learning that the winner has to eat almost six pounds in half an hour. Collard-eating contests have been held in the town of Ayden in Pitt County for as long as most people can remember. The home of the official N.C. Collard Festival, Ayden has a lot of collard aficionados, and … [Read more...]

Beyond the Music: Feeding the Merlefest Masses for Community Causes

Text and photos by Leanne E. Smith When 75,000 people gather for four days at a music festival, they will eat a lot of food. If that festival is Merlefest, they will have plenty of choices from longtime favorites to newer offerings. Food vendors are scattered throughout the festival grounds at the Wilkes Community College campus in Wilkesboro, NC, but the center of the morning-to-night food scene is the circus-sized … [Read more...]

Whole Hog Cookin’

Text and photos by Ray Linville What’s the best way to develop a spirit of unity in a small town or city? In Newport, a town of 4,500 residents in Carteret County, an old-fashioned pig cookin’ is the best way to bring the community together by creating a lively competition to determine who can cook the best barbecue. Chartered as long ago as 1866, Newport has undoubtedly been the scene of quite a few pig cookin’s. … [Read more...]

“I Can Feed You”—Farming, Activism, and Food Justice

Text and photos By Virginia Hamilton This summer was a particularly rough one. While wading through a host of personal issues, I was also absorbing a constant onslaught of images of bloodied, dust-covered children being pulled from wreckage and black bodies dying on shaky cell phone cameras. Refugees, soaking and sinking. Too little water and way too much water. White men yelling endlessly on television. A … [Read more...]

Carrboro Beverage Company

Text and photos by Sol Weiner When it gets as hot out as it's been for the last few weeks, only a few slow, languid thoughts cross my mind. In addition to "where's the nearest swimming hole?" and "when I get rich, I'm spending summers in Maine," I often see a flashing neon sign that simply reads "BEER." The Carrboro Beverage Company (CBC) in downtown Carrboro is, without a doubt, the place to go in the … [Read more...]

Food For Thought: Trump, Police, and…Cheeseburgers?

Text by Sol Weiner As anybody who’s turned on a television or opened a newspaper lately could tell you, this summer has been a political circus. Although they only registered as tiny blips on the vast radar of the 24-hour news cycle, there were at least two notable instances this summer of North Carolina food and politics intersecting in some very interesting ways. Though the first case actually took place in … [Read more...]

Creamed Chicken Over Waffles

Text and photos by Ray Linville Holding a “throwback” event is a great way to honor a tradition that once was a favorite but ended too quickly. Such was the case this spring when the Moore County Historical Association—the oldest historical society in N.C. in continuous operation—held a luncheon and re-created a popular dish to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Association’s founding: creamed chicken over … [Read more...]

The Great Pumpkin Diaries, Pt. III

Text by Frances Dowell, photos by Randi Byrd And then there were two. When we last visited Randi Byrd’s pumpkin patch, she was down to three plants, having lost one to stem damage (assailant unknown) and another to survival of the fittest (i.e. Randi plucked that sucker right out of the ground to make room for the healthier plants to grow). Who knew that, only moments after our last report, the vine known as 1522 … [Read more...]

“Fast Food” at the Orange County Speedway

Text by Sol Weiner, photos by Sol Weiner and Anna Keneda When I think of the Orange County Speedway—when I picture it in my mind—it sizzles like the grease on a flattop grill. On alternating Saturday nights from March through October (with a few extras and exceptions), the Orange County Speedway in Rougemont hosts stock car races on what they call “America’s Fastest ⅜ Track.” Saturday nights feature five to … [Read more...]

Poitín and The Great Wagon Road Distilling Company

Text and Photos by Caroline Miller The Great Wagon Road Distilling Company in Charlotte’s South End neighborhood is the first distillery in North Carolina to have its own bar, The Broken Spoke. My friends and I wandered into The Broken Spoke one summer afternoon after enjoying a delicious pint at Sugar Creek Brewery next door. As I perused the drink offerings, I was surprised and delighted to see poitín listed on … [Read more...]