February 8, 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-Stealing Night

by Sarah Bryan Here in North Carolina we’ve eaten up the winter collard greens, and are eagerly anticipating the early spring crop. Thinking about collards put us in mind of a tradition we learned about some years back, Collard-Stealing Night. Though it may have been practiced in various parts of North Carolina, it seems to have been most especially a Pender County “thing.” (The following text is excerpted from … [Read more...]

Diner Food and Motorcycles

  By Ray Linville   What about cold temperatures makes us hungry for hot, homemade soup? When you’re traveling on a chilly winter day, do you look for a diner and hope that it has freshly made, steaming hot soup ready to serve?   As I was traveling on U.S. Highway 64 near the eastern edge of Asheboro in Randolph County, I spotted an interesting-looking two-story building. On one side … [Read more...]

Livermush Monday at the Grocery Basket & Grill in Ferguson, NC

by Leanne E. Smith At the Grocery Basket & Grill in Ferguson, North Carolina, Labor Day Monday is Livermush Monday. On the day after the Happy Valley Fiddler’s Convention, Livermush Monday is a somewhat new music gathering celebrating an older foodways tradition and the longtime local eatery. Traveling from the festival towards Wilkesboro, the first left after the parking lot shared by the Ferguson Fire … [Read more...]

Starting the New Year with Food (and Politics)

  by Ray Linville   A community can come together on special occasions, such as New Year’s Day. When the “good luck” foods of the South are provided free by elected officials and political candidates, the crowd can swell and create a huge waiting line, just the perfect opportunity for politicians to meet and greet voters and constituents to chat with their … [Read more...]

Feasting at the 10th Annual Oyster Roast and Shrimp Steam at the Ocracoke Seafood Company

by Leanne E. Smith     Seventy-degree weather on December 30? With some slight southerly breezes blowing off of Silver Lake, and a well-timed break in the day’s rain, it was a great day to gather around sheets of plywood propped on sawhorses in anticipation of oysters, shrimp, stews, and hushpuppies outside the Ocracoke Seafood Company for the 10th annual Ocracoke Oyster Roast and … [Read more...]

Benne for Good Luck

by Sarah Bryan   As Christmas of 2015 approached, I discovered yet another reason to be glad that I work for NC Folk. I already knew that my colleagues, Executive Director Joy Salyers and Director of Programs and Development Evan Hatch, are great folks to work with: they’re kind, smart, and deeply dedicated to NC Folk’s work of preserving and promoting the traditional cultures of North Carolina. What I … [Read more...]

Revisiting the holidays at NC Food, Part 2

One of the great things about the winter holidays is the opportunity to learn about the traditions of people whose backgrounds are different from one's own. And because so many people celebrate their holidays with special dishes, it's a great time also to sample new tastes. Perhaps you have a family member from another culture who shares his or her favorite recipe at a family gathering; or maybe you're home for the … [Read more...]

Boiled Peanuts for Sale

by Ray Linville   What makes boiled peanuts so enjoyable in the Old North State? “Boiling peanuts brings out a kind of mellowness to the nut which is ... like tasting ripeness in a pear,” says food historian David Shields.   Peanuts, planted in May, are ready for harvest in September and October. Although raw in the shell and roasted varieties are popular, this state has a long-standing … [Read more...]

Christmas Past at NC Food

This December in NC Food, we’ll be bringing you some of our favorite holiday posts from winters past. Whether you’re gearing up for Hanukkah or Christmas, catching your breath after a festive Diwali, or preparing to observe Kwanzaa or Mawlid, we bet that food is an important part of your holiday season. Today, let’s revisit some stories about Christmas. Baked treats—cookies, cakes, special breads—are integral to … [Read more...]

Cataloochee Prune Cake

by Sarah Bryan   In some ways the border between the Carolinas is fluid. The two largest towns that are on or a few miles from the state line—Charlotte and Myrtle Beach—seem mismatched with their respective states. Charlotte could be mistaken for a bustling, shiny, businesslike version of the self-image of the state to the south, and Myrtle Beach for a vacation outpost of its northern neighbor. Of … [Read more...]