December 11, 2016

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...]

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...]

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...]

Scuppernongs and Other Muscadines Are Ready

  by Ray Linville     It’s scuppernong time. The historic grape is ripe and ready across the state in grocery stores, at roadside stands, and from u-pick-it vineyards—along with other varieties of the muscadine. Autumn means it’s time to appreciate and enjoy these indigenous grapes. They sustained Native Americans, European explorers and colonists, enslaved and indentured workers, … [Read more...]

Collard Shack Revisited

by Ray Linville A trip to the small town of Ayden is usually for wood-cooked barbecue because it’s the home to two of the state’s premier BBQ establishments – Skylight Inn and Bum’s Restaurant. However, when I traveled there, I was searching for The Collard Shack as much as I was for chopped whole hog barbecue.   In 2011 when David Cecelski wrote about The Collard Shack in one of his legacy posts on … [Read more...]

Would You Order Livermush at a Classic Family Diner?

by Ray Linville Want to step back in time and explore early food traditions of our state? Then stop at a family-owned diner that has been in business for more than 50 years. When you do, expect to find items on the menu that link back to days long ago. The menu boards immediately caught my attention when I entered The Hub, a place popular for breakfast and lunch in Anson County. Located about 50 miles east … [Read more...]

Mobile Food for the Literati

By Ray Linville Where do you go for food when you’re at a literary festival on a weekend and the places open on weekdays are closed? When the N.C. Literary Festival was held this year in Raleigh, the answers to feed the hungry public were food trucks. The festival drew thousands to author readings and discussions, performances, book signings, and children activities. Can you imagine how hungry these events made … [Read more...]

Foods Made in N.C. Often Continue Family Traditions

by Ray Linville Have you ever wandered through a festival that showcases the best flavors and tastes of North Carolina? Imagine attending an event that highlights the best of N.C. agriculture and celebrates specialty foods made in our state. The three-day, family-friendly Got to Be NC Festival  held each May at the State Fairgrounds in Raleigh draws attention to food creations of long-standing as well newly … [Read more...]

Time for Persimmon Pudding

by Ray Linville Cool temperatures mean fall fruits and vegetables. When the summer temperatures drop, one tree becomes more noticeable as its round fruit ripens and takes on an orange-brown hue. Is it time to pick persimmons and make pudding? Many of us remember days from childhood when we asked if the persimmons could be picked. Impatiently we had to wait until the fruit was ready. Picked too early, persimmons … [Read more...]