by David Cecelski
Today my son, one of his friends, and I visited Kernersville, a small town in Forsyth County, between Winston-Salem and Greensboro. While the boys warmed up for a ballgame, I explored downtown. I parked on Railroad Street next to a series of murals that highlight the town’s history, including the coming of the railroad in the early 1870s and the life of local billboard pioneer Jule Körner. Though Körner is probably better known for his extravagantly eclectic house (Körner’s Folly, now a museum) in town, he’s also remembered for the Bull Durham tobacco ads that he designed and painted on buildings across the U.S. in the 1880s.
While I was downtown, I looked for a few picnic items for the boys and me to enjoy after the ballgame. Fortunately, at the intersection of Railroad Street and North Main, I found Musten & Crutchfield, a family-run grocery store that’s been serving Kernersville since 1938. It turned out to be just my kind of place: it’s old, full of community feeling, and has lots of local flavor.
Musten & Crutchfield was long a general grocery store, but has downsized a bit over the last decade or two. Now they focus on keeping a good butcher shop, selling local specialty products that you can’t get at most chain grocers, and on making a few of the regional delicacies that the family business has always been best known for, especially chicken salad, pimento cheese, and liver pudding.
Oil paintings of the store’s original owners, John C. Musten and his son-in-law Dace Crutchfield, along with their wives and co-workers, Elva and Louise, hang on the wall next to the store’s butcher shop. The family’s latest generation boasts that they still make their pimento cheese with Elva Musten’s recipe. They sell it at the store, but Lowe’s Foods and Wal-Mart stores in the region have started carrying it, too.
For our picnic I purchased Saltines and containers of liver pudding and pimento cheese, and also a less traditional local product, a little round of salami made at the San Giuseppe Salami Company in Elon, 45 minutes to the east, in Alamance County. It’s hard to convey the depth of my son’s and his friend’s gratitude when they discovered that I had brought them a dish—the liver pudding—that has hog snouts as its first ingredient.
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Musten & Crutchfield is located at 245 N. Main Street in Kernersville. You can learn more about the store and order its specialty products at their website, www.mustenandcrutchfield.com. You can buy the San Giuseppe Salami Company’s salami there, but also on the Web atwww.salamisbymail.com or at their store, Giacomo’s Italian Market, at 2109 New Garden Road in Greensboro.