NC Food

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.

These are my stories. Touchstones. Connections. Reveries … by the fork and spoonful.


The Wagoner Family Cookbookby Deborah Miller I hit my early 30’s with a couple of significant, but soon to be important, strangers in my how-fast-can-I-run life. One was my second husband, who I hadn’t quite met yet, the other was my kitchen where I mostly kept the beer cold, the coffee hot, and stashed take-out as I hurried on the way to somewhere else. I didn’t hate cooking. In fact, there was something calm and almost Zen-like there … [Read more…]

THE Perfect Plate of Barbecue, Round II

BarBQKingby Deborah Miller Two weeks ago, Elijah Gaddis fired up a plate for debate in celebration of National BBQ Month! We asked you what would make up YOUR perfect plate of barbecue, including sides — and from where? To all of you who responded, thank you. Here’s what you all had to say: Joe S: Sorry, but I can’t agree about eastern-style — the meat is uneven tasting (which is a result of their “whole-hog” … [Read more…]

A Taste of Home, One Memory at a Time

MomCarby Deborah Miller Mother’s Day is bittersweet. For all intents and purposes, I’ve already lost my Mom. She is 5 years into dementia and no longer remembers who I am. She imagines she loves me. She even says so sometimes, just like she tells everyone she encounters from staff to stranger.  She used to hug me back. Now she stands limply in front of me with her arms dangling by her side, this passive yielding a far … [Read more…]

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner

Brooks Crossroads, NCby Deborah Miller Daddy was a traveling salesman. As regional sales director for Blue Cross/Blue Shield in the late 50’s/early ‘60’s, he drove all over North Carolina trying to sign up companies for a new plan called “group insurance.” He was gone a lot, and often late for dinner, but he was still the guy who came home every so often with a trunk full of Hostess Cupcakes, Twinkies, and SnoBalls compliments of one … [Read more…]

North Carolina Blueberries

Blueberries_6by Deborah Miller I didn’t actually GO blueberry picking with Joy Salyers and Elijah Gaddis, but I heard all about it and got to enjoy the bounty.  Heck, I don’t even know where they went. But that Monday, I came into work to find a large container on my desk filled almost to overflowing. So I had them by the handful.  At first. Then I slowed down to popping them one by one just barely biting into them so I … [Read more…]

A Honey of a Diner

Cherry cobbler with vanilla ice cream.By Deborah Miller I hadn’t been to Honey’s in years until last week when I heard that they were on the verge of closing. Now I feel kinda bad about that, especially considering the childhood history I had with the 24-hour diner. Not to mention those middle of the night breakfasts when I was in college. At some point in the late 50’s or early 60’s, my parents decided to invent Family Night.  It was always on a … [Read more…]


cinnamonBy Deborah Miller It takes little more than a hot July day to take me back to one of my favorite summer memories when my Grandmother would bring a pot of water to boil before telling us to run out to the garden for some “roasting ears.” My younger sister misheard that as “rosemarys” and called them that for the longest time. Today when she says “I want some rosemarys” we all know what she means. Farm-to-fork … [Read more…]

Sonker & Stack Pie

The result: strawberry-blueberry-thyme pie atop Hoosier sugar pie.<br />
Photo Credit: Alex di Suvero for The New York Timesby Deborah Miller You may have heard of stack cake from the mountains  … you may know that mullet roe is from eastern NC …  but stack pie and sonker? Here are two recent media recognitions by The New York Times on dishes specific to certain areas of our state. North Carolina Public Radio – WUNC July 1, 2014 Sonker. It’s like cobbler ‘cept it’s not. The New York Times Kim Severson visits Mount Airy, NC to get … [Read more…]

Tang Comes to Yadkin County

GoldenWheatDishesby Deborah Miller Gernie and Rachel Wagoner, AKA my grandparents, had a small tobacco farm in Yadkin County. Brooks Crossroads, to be exact, a scant 7 ½ miles west of Yadkinville. And on this farm they had a duck … and an old mule, chickens, a couple of grapevines, a huge vegetable garden, and a rat terrier named Bobo. Even though we spent lots of time with them as kids, for a long time I wasn’t exactly sure … [Read more…]

Joy and Deborah’s Excellent Adventure to Person County

12032012-4by Deborah Miller One of the things I already know I love about working here is when Joy starts a sentence with “We need to go …. ”  Not one to need too much convincing, I can be ready to go in a split-second.  And this time, she said “We need to go drive up to Roxboro to see this Sappony exhibit at The Kirby Gallery before it ends on Friday.”  It was a beautiful sun-filled day driving up Hwy. 501 North as Joy … [Read more…]

Ice Cream Hook Up

11172012-3With the blustery weather of the last few days, it’s hard to believe that Monday was hot and humid enough to think about sweet and frozen treats. You don’t have to twist my arm very hard for ice cream, so when NC Folklife Institute Director Joy Salyers suggested a side trip over to Raleigh to taste and learn more about Howling Cow Ice Cream, I already had a spoon in my hand. Where were we going? It might help to … [Read more…]

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