January 29, 2015

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.

North Carolina’s Official State Symbols That Taste Good, Part 1

Blueberries photo by Scott Bauer, courtesy of USDA Agricultural Research Service

by Deborah Miller Every state has its official list of chosen symbols. We all know, or should know, that our State Bird is the Cardinal and State Tree is the Dogwood. But why, and how, do such random things like dog, reptile, and even dance become official? In case you just moved to the Tar Heel state or have lived here your whole life but need a scorecard for all we hold near and dear, check out this very … [Read more...]

Recipe for Belonging

cookbok

by Malinda Fillingim Back in 1972, when I first moved to my step-father’s hometown of Walnut Cove, I was a lonely 13 year old surrounded by people who had grown up together and whose families had lived in the same community for generations. I had to find my own path and create my own sense of place, which can be a hard thing to do when some kids, like a boy I’ll call Phyllis, constantly told me I didn’t belong and … [Read more...]

Neuse River Fish Stew – a guest post by NC barbecue expert Bob Garner

Fish stew contains rounded, perfectly-poached eggs

by Bob Garner [Editor's note: We were so excited to receive an email from Winston-Salem's John F. Blair Publishing asking if we'd be interested in having Bob Garner write a guest post for NCFood. Bob Garner? THE North Carolina barbecue expert? You bet your prized hog, we were interested! Especially since his new book Foods That Make You Say MMM-MMM just came out. Bob is a television personality, restaurant … [Read more...]

Collards a lo Cubano

My (NC) family's dining room table in Ellerbe.

by Sarah Bryan Verlie Helsabeck Freeman was a vivid woman. She had a cat named Mr. Cat, a set of dentures that she took out of her mouth and clacked at frightened great-grandchildren, and—as she warned overly curious visitors who might snoop around the house—a booger in her basement. (To readers who aren’t from North Carolina, let me hasten to explain that a booger is like a goblin, a small, scary creature … [Read more...]

Chicken and Pastry, or What Have You

Edith Green teaches Anna Scott how to make chicken and pastry at her home in Cerro Gordo, North Carolina. After making the dough, Green starts with a clean white sheet, sprinkles it with flour, and rolls out the pastry.

We are so excited that this week's NC Food Blog installment also introduces you to our new online exhibits feature! This exhibition introduces the history and process of Chicken and Pastry making through both written and visual documentation. From our fieldwork archives, Edith Green of Columbus County, North Carolina, is pictured teaching NC Folk fieldworker Anna Scott her traditional recipe as photographed by … [Read more...]

Happy Thanksgiving!

Credit Playing Futures: Applied Nomadology / Flickr/Creative Commons

by Deborah Miller The holidays seem to turn the nostalgia dial up to eleven for many of us, especially when it comes to food.  We find comfort in the familiarity of the menu and we want them prepared the exact same way we had them at our table.  I certainly wouldn't put my mother's green bean casserole up against anyone else's because it was just green beans, cream of mushroom soup topped with fried onions, but it … [Read more...]

My Turkey Lesson

"Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo)" by Franco Folini is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

by Malinda Fillingim Although I was the teacher, I was the one who had a lesson to learn. As the fourth grade teacher at Haliwa-Saponi Tribal School in Hollister, I had an open door policy when it came to parents and tribal leaders who wanted to observe or volunteer in my classroom. Tribal leaders and their relatives had visited us and taught us pottery, origami, beading, and traditional dance steps. Such … [Read more...]

“A Martin County Thing”—Chicken Mull

1st Annual Chicken Mull Festival, Bear Grass, NC - 10/25/14

by Leanne E. Smith Sixty-five gallons of chicken mull disappeared in less than a couple of hours on Saturday, October 25, 2014, when the town of Bear Grass in Martin County, NC, held its First Annual Chicken Mull Festival. Bear Grass is in the middle of Martin County in Eastern North Carolina, about 20 miles northeast of Greenville and eight miles southwest of Williamston, the county seat. As of the 2013 … [Read more...]

Kitchen Memories

kitchem memories_two_1

by Malinda Dunlap Fillingim One of my favorite past-times is finding old kitchen tools and utensils in thrift stores. A museum of culinary history awaits me each time I hold an old spider pan, French fry cutter, pewter pitcher, or in a recent visit at the Habitat For Humanity Thrift Store in Southport, an old clamp-style apple slicer. I was admiring the well-used device when an elderly man approached me and … [Read more...]

The Zack Attack

Zack's combination hot dog.

by Evan Hatch Many mistakes are made by those individuals not initiated to the Zack’s Hotdogs Experience.  Those individuals refer to a menu before they order.  They try to pay with a debit card.  They try to explain what they want to their waiter instead of using accepted jargon. They misunderstand the double line, first seating policy.  They order a cheese dog, expecting it to have meat. Largely, these neophytic … [Read more...]