June 29, 2016

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...]

Taste the Redbuds

  By Ray Linville   The eastern redbud tree is one of the first heralds of spring. Underneath the pine trees of our state, this flowering tree creates a magnificent sight as temperatures begin to warm. Because the redbud is so prominent as an ornamental, we tend to overlook its role in our food culture. When I was out for a daily walk, I passed a redbud tree at its flowering peak. I … [Read more...]

Recalling Fishing Camps of the Past

by Ray Linville   Fishing camps in eastern North Carolina were once where farmers could seek short-term employment in the fishing industry when the season arrived and, as described by NCpedia, “make a pile of money” by catching fish. Some camps were built on the coast, and nets were set from the beach to capture seasonal runs of several fish species. Other camps were built by sounds and their … [Read more...]

Keeping the Business in the Family

by Ray Linville A nondescript building on a rural road is not the typical place where I stop for food. In Rennert, a town of fewer than 400 residents in Robeson County, I found “E.&H. Bar.B.Q. Hut” painted on a faded, decades-old Coca-Cola sign on a whitewashed structure that marked my destination. Although another sign in a window where walk-up customers once were served says, “No Trespassing,” a window … [Read more...]

Creating a Welcome Table

by Ray Linville In 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. eminently said, “ . . . the church is still the most segregated major institution in America. At 11:00 on Sunday morning… we stand at the most segregated hour in this nation.” Although much has changed in the intervening years, much still needs to be done to improve race relations, as seen by congregations and their denominations that have racial … [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...]

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...]

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...]