August 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.

El Restaurante Ixtapa

Text and images by Sol Weiner On a recent lunch break, fellow NC FOLKer Evan Hatch insisted that we go to El Restaurante Ixtapa in downtown Hillsborough. I’ve been hearing friends talk for months about Ixtapa’s no-frills combination of surf-and-turf options typical of Guerrero-style Mexican food. As Latino migration to North Carolina continues to grow, more and more states and regions in Latin America are being … [Read more...]

A Gift from the Cake Lady

Text and images by Evan Hatch I just left Tommy and Adell Coley’s house in Baptist Grove, near Fuquay Varina, North Carolina. I interviewed Mrs. Coley for a folklife field study that NC Folk is conducting for the Harnett County Arts Council.  Adell is the first of almost 30 area artists and tradition bearers to be interviewed. Before I was invited into her home at 8 am that morning, all I knew about her was … [Read more...]

The Great Pumpkin Diaries

Text by Frances Dowell. Images by Randi Byrd. 240 lbs of gypsum, 80 lbs of lime, 50 lbs of kelp meal, 50 lbs of very well-aged chicken manure, and 30 lbs of bone meal went into the patch today. —Randi Byrd’s Facebook page, March 19, 2016   Every year Randi Byrd prepares the soil, chooses her seeds, and sets out to grow North Carolina’s biggest pumpkin. Randi is Community Engagement Coordinator … [Read more...]

Finding Festival Food in Vanceboro

Photos and Images by Leanne E. Smith The Vanceboro Strawberry Festival & Rescue Day celebrates its namesake fruit, but it is also a fundraiser and outreach event for the Vanceboro Rescue Squad.  The town has a population of around 1,000 people, and it is centrally located between several other Eastern NC towns, being about 26 miles from Greenville in Pitt County and 19 from Washington in Beaufort County, both … [Read more...]

Saltbox Seafood Joint

Text and photos by Monique LaBorde I’ve visited Saltbox Seafood Joint three times in the past year, but I only recently made it there in time to eat. Saltbox opens at 11am and cooks seafood until they run out, which is usually around 5 p.m. On a busy day, Saltbox can run out of their seafood supply after the lunch rush. Every morning for three years, the small stand in Durham’s Little Five Points … [Read more...]

The Pit

The Pit BBQ in Durham, across from the famed Motorco, is part of the new Durham--a Durham of renovation and reinvention. The Pit is the perfect example of a business taking the traditions of a city steeped in Southern history, and presenting them with a modern aesthetic to a new generation. The Pit is gleaming inside, with shiny hardwood floors and tables, and a ceiling-high glass divider with a frosted pig … [Read more...]

Allen and Son Bar-B-Que

Text and Photos by Lauren Fulcher and Monique Laborde In the big cities of NC, it’s easy to forget that you’re in the south. Especially in college towns like Chapel Hill, it’s hard to find authentic southern cooking. If you drive out though just a few miles from Franklin Street, there’s a little place called Allen & Son BBQ that is famous for keeping North Carolina food traditions alive. On the drive to … [Read more...]

First Local Berries of the Season

By Ray Linville Finding locally grown strawberries is a sure sign that spring has arrived. As I was driving in the Monkey Junction area of Wilmington on the last weekend in March, I noticed a berry stand that had been closed for months was open. North Carolina, the third largest producer of strawberries in the United States, has the country’s largest fresh market for strawberries. Finding fresh local … [Read more...]

The Art of Making Pupusas

by Joy Salyers There was so much to share from our visit to Manny's Universal Cafe in Greensboro that we had to make two blog posts about it! Last week Evan Hatch told you about the owners, Manny and Margarita, and the amazing food we ate (and ate, and ate). This week, we have a special treat for you -- a pupusa-making lesson! Evan, you see, is the consummate fieldworker. Even while we were eating, he was … [Read more...]

Manny’s Universal Cafe

by Evan Hatch The Southside neighborhood in downtown Greensboro, North Carolina, stands as a prime example of successful urban revitalization.  Historic homes line the landscape, interspersed with historic businesses and combined commercial/residential properties. Urban planning experts often cite Southside as an example of renewal done right. A 2003 winner of the National Planning Award for Implementation from … [Read more...]