October 25, 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.

A Feast For the Eyes

Text and photos by Sol Weiner At the North Carolina State Fair, a 100-pound watermelon is not just a 100-pound watermelon, nor is the first-prize pumpkin pie just a dessert. Like The Treachery of Images by René Magritte, which famously declared “This is not a pipe” below an image of that very object, food on display is a representation of something else, something bigger. After all, if you can’t actually eat the … [Read more...]

Hurricanes, Pigs, and People

Text by Sol Weiner, photos by Sol Weiner and Tom Clement (unless otherwise noted) Perhaps it seems insensitive, almost crass. With as much life and property lost in a storm like Hurricane Matthew, news outlets—with the pressure to constantly produce material—still run stories not about people washing away, but about pigs. And chickens. And turkeys. Whether the story is about the family pet falling victim to … [Read more...]

Spots Are Running

Text and photos by Ray Linville “They’re running” is a phrase that you hear often. It could be at the start of a NASCAR race in Charlotte, a 10K run in the Triangle, or a warning about bulls charging in Pamplona, Spain, but right now it’s a phrase referring to a seasonal phenomenon on the coast. For many coastal areas in North Carolina at this time of year, "they're running" means that spots are running near … [Read more...]

El’s Drive-In Shrimp Burger: A Crystal Coast Favorite

Text and photos by Sol Weiner Summer in North Carolina has now come and gone, and with it the height of beach season. Like many humans, I like the beach—there’s an ocean you can jump into, and a lot of tasty seafood. And like many folklorists, I also spend a lot of time in my car. While most of that time is spent driving, smaller portions are used on noble pursuits like sleeping in Walmart parking lots, changing … [Read more...]

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...]