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The Carolina Table: North Carolina Writers on Food

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At the intersection of food and story, The Carolina Table: North Carolina Writers on Food will offer a collection of essays about the best meal, food and memory, the best family tradition, a cherished food ritual, a dreaded food ritual, a favorite recipe, the worst recipe, the worst meal, the funniest meal.


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At the intersection of food and story, The Carolina Table: North Carolina Writers on Food will offer a collection of essays about the best meal, food and memory, the best family tradition, a cherished food ritual, a dreaded food ritual, a favorite recipe, the worst recipe, the worst meal, the funniest meal.

30 review for The Carolina Table: North Carolina Writers on Food

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    As Randall Kenan says in the introduction to The Carolina Table, "This is the story of the Tar Heel state through food." (p.7) A collection of essays centering around Southern food, food memories, and how food continues to shape the cultural experience of the South today. As with any collection of essays by different authors, there are some I liked more than others and some I could more personally relate to, but overall it is a great collection of stories about Southern food. It's a pretty quick As Randall Kenan says in the introduction to The Carolina Table, "This is the story of the Tar Heel state through food." (p.7) A collection of essays centering around Southern food, food memories, and how food continues to shape the cultural experience of the South today. As with any collection of essays by different authors, there are some I liked more than others and some I could more personally relate to, but overall it is a great collection of stories about Southern food. It's a pretty quick read and I liked that the editor divided the stories into sections - Someone's in the Kitchen, Carolina Flavor, Adventures in Eating, and Traditions. Definitely a must-read for any NC foodies. A quote I really liked: "One time when we all went out for bagels in Chapel Hill, she [Lee Smith's mother] said, 'This may taste good to someone who has never eaten a biscuit.' Another thing she used to say is, 'No matter what is wrong with you, a sausage biscuit will make you feel a whole lot better.' I agree..." (p.47)

  2. 4 out of 5

    Dani

    The Carolina Table lays out stories about beloved food and community the way aunts and great-aunts in Nancie McDermotts The Family Reunion laid out their best dishes on clothed tables at the Schley Grange. Be a hungry child, walk beside the long tables crowded nearly at eye-level with best pickles in cut-glass bowls, deviled eggs on proper deviled egg plates, Aunt Julias chicken pie, threes and actual vegetables, then the dessert table with flights of pies, fresh coconut cake, black walnut fudge The Carolina Table lays out stories about beloved food and community the way aunts and great-aunts in Nancie McDermott’s The Family Reunion laid out their best dishes on clothed tables at the Schley Grange. Be a hungry child, walk beside the long tables crowded nearly at eye-level with best pickles in cut-glass bowls, deviled eggs on proper deviled egg plates, Aunt Julia’s chicken pie, “threes” and “actual vegetables”, then the dessert table with “flights of pies”, fresh coconut cake, black walnut fudge and peach cobbler. It’s how I felt as I read this collection. My plate was over-full, and I kept coming back for more. Reading The Carolina Table also feels like speaking your blessings out loud, with gratitude. Richard Chess’s Make It Holy about his “Sabbath Tribe” is a heart-full celebration of rituals of food, history, scripture. Bridgette A. Lacy’s Mater Day reminds us that we still yearn to gather together over good, good food at its glorious peak. I recommend that you sit upright reading, so as not create an unsafe situation when you read Michael Parker’s Let’s Cook, EXCLAMATION POINT, including a remembrance of his father’s Scrambled Hamburger (“apparently his hamburger did not need any help”) or Stephen Petrow’s The Pies That Bind, a cautionary tale about complacency. In three brief pages, Lenard D. Moore’s An Onslow County Tradition sings a ballad of land and sea, fatherhood, abundance, salty, sweaty work and contentment, memories of which cannot be erased by heartbreak, death, or bulldozers. Diya Abdo’s On Food and Other Weapons is a sliver of this Syrian mother, now, here, tucked away in a North Carolina community. And, it is also, of course, the oldest story of all: an isolated, shy immigrant cook who knows as she breathes that her food will bring people to the table, to the home, to the heart. “The visiting Afghani boys say to ‘tell her that her food is delicious.’ That it tastes exactly like something they eat in Afghanistan.” Her cooking, like Sophia Woo’s dumplings in Vulnerability or Paul Cuadros’ chicken in Pollo a la Brasa Keeps Turning in North Carolina remind us that we are still a messy, delicious community of people from all over the world, that Southern food will evolve as the cookers and eaters are woven in. In North Carolina and other places, food traditions were nearly lost by the post-war generation of can-cooks, my mother among them. The writers in this collection are conservators, having saved the stories as well as the well-worn recipes, like Lee Smith’s mother’s in The Recipe Box, “soft, weathered index cards covered with thumbprints and spatters”. And good that they did, for as she says, “our recipes tell us everything about us” and we are handed down treasure. Jaki Shelton-Green in Singing Tables says “the ghosts of other tables, other kitchens, remind me that we are all just ingredients and what matters is the grace with which I cook the meal”. Zelda Lockhart’s Garden Gate is for everyone who ever thought, “If my ancestors could do it, I certainly can… and should”. She could and did: cheer her triumph. In Zelda’s garden, in Wayne Caldwell’s Ruby’s Kitchen, on the cottage deck in Bill Smith’s Hard Crab Stew, or Jill McCorkle’s grandmother’s kitchen sink in Remembering the Cake we visit the places where love and food and memory meet. My generation of chefs and cooks show our gratitude in the thriving food scenes from Asheville to Durham to Kinston to Wilmington, and the kids are alright. As Sophia Woo says, despite the intense hardships of building a food business, “What made it worth it was people came to eat.” In the same way that Nancie McDermott’s family reunion has evolved over years and generations, we may pine and hunger for the meals of those uncomplicated (we imagine) old black and white photographs and supper tables, but we won’t turn down a good takeout chicken leg and biscuit. We still gather and eat, and there is chocolate cake. All is not lost, and these good people remind us of the truest gifts of food, family and communion at our Carolina tables.

  3. 4 out of 5

    R. Saunders

    A delightful celebration of food by North Carolina-based writers, this curated book is beautifully edited by Randall Kenan. This is food writing at its best. It is a book of stories just as much about the gastronomy of a particular local culture as it is about memory and emotion. Each story is a poignant memoir in which the writer recalls foods, preparations, and meals in the roads and byways of place and time. There are few readers - especially those with southern roots, myself included - who A delightful celebration of food by North Carolina-based writers, this curated book is beautifully edited by Randall Kenan. This is food writing at its best. It is a book of stories just as much about the gastronomy of a particular local culture as it is about memory and emotion. Each story is a poignant memoir in which the writer recalls foods, preparations, and meals in the roads and byways of place and time. There are few readers - especially those with southern roots, myself included - who would not be able to relate to these stories. They are a treasure. Everyone has food stories. Everyone should read the delicious samplings by these excellent authors. Here are a few quotes. "Some folks see the American South as a bug trapped in amber; others see the South as an integral part of the Great American experiment - still aspiring to get it right, to make it better; an ongoing thing - rich with contributions, opportunities, and possibilities." Randall Kenan, Introduction "My family and extended tribes never needed a copy of Being Dead Is No Excuse: The Official Southern Ladies Guide to Hosting the Perfect Funeral. It's in our blood...We know what we know about the power fried gizzards, leftover meatloaf, turkey necks, fried croakers, okra gumbo, and moonshine." Jaki Shelton Green, Singing Tables "She was something of a pessimist, but I'd rather call her outlook Appalachian Fatalism that knows life is hard, you work until you die, and every silver lining has a cloud. Then God, who after all is in charge, rewards and punishes." Wayne Caldwell, Ruby's Kitchen "Covering that filling with pastry instead of mile-high meringue is a mustache on a culinary Mona Lisa to me." Celia Rivenbark, Grape (Hull Pie) Expectations on Highway 227 "With any luck we're sitting on the deck of a cottage somewhere out on Hatteras island. Late in the afternoon there comes a moment when the sun is still hot, but the wind starts to come in off the sea. Heat radiates up from the sand as the breeze cools you at the same time. When this happens, tension magically leaves my neck and shoulders for a second. I feel like I am where I belong." Bill Smith, Hard Crab Stew "Her grits ignorance proves the old cliche, Florida really isn't a Southern state at all." Moreton Neal, Putting on the Grits "We sprinkled vinegar and sugar on our sliced German Johnson tomatoes, and she [my grandmother] made a watermelon rind pickle so luminous and translucent green it could have come from the Emerald City of Oz." Marianne Gingher, Pie Love You, Cake Do Without You

  4. 5 out of 5

    Wulfwyn

    I won a copy of The Carolina Table: North Carolina Writers on Food in a Goodreads Giveaway. (People really do win!) I love cooking and have been collecting cookbooks for a number of years. This is not what I call a cookbook though it does have a number recipes in it. What I adore about this book were the stories of North Carolina kitchen tables. Some of them reminded me of my Mamaw's table in Southeast Kentucky. It was the various authors bringing the different flavors that make up North I won a copy of The Carolina Table: North Carolina Writers on Food in a Goodreads Giveaway. (People really do win!) I love cooking and have been collecting cookbooks for a number of years. This is not what I call a cookbook though it does have a number recipes in it. What I adore about this book were the stories of North Carolina kitchen tables. Some of them reminded me of my Mamaw's table in Southeast Kentucky. It was the various authors bringing the different flavors that make up North Carolina cuisine and serving them at homes where love ruled the table. Some of the stories will educate you. Some will have you howling with laughter. All will inspire you. These are stories that nourish the soul as well as the stomach. Your stomach will be nourished, too. Though not a cookbook in the traditional style, there are recipes included. The Annie Collins Pound Cake will delight your taste buds as no box mix for pound cake can. It is divine and not complicated at all to make. I was never one for Butter Beans. I ate my Mamaw's and they were good. My favorites though were Leather Britches. I made the recipe for Better Butter Beans that is in the book and fell in love with Butter Beans. Who knew they could taste so good? If you have never tried cheese grits, I invite you to follow the easy recipe for this southern favorite. If you eat your cornbread on a plate, try it in a cold glass of milk, (a filling supper any night of the week). Sausage biscuits do cure anything that ails you, especially covered in gravy.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Chao

    Like the saying, "you are what you eat" this book describes the treasured food culture that is called Southern food. I read this in one sitting-all at once it was funny, inspiring and educative. I even marked the pages with recipes, so I can come back and try them.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Becky

    This collection of essays by North Carolina writers on NC foodways highlights the diversity and richness of the state's culinary and literary cultures. Each essay is a jewel, and reading them made me appreciate and left me hungry to explore more Carolina food cultures. They also evoked memories of my own family's southern food traditions and left me longing for a visit with my mother.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Linda

  8. 4 out of 5

    Meghan

  9. 5 out of 5

    Becky

  10. 4 out of 5

    Caroline

  11. 4 out of 5

    Carol

  12. 5 out of 5

    Cristina

  13. 5 out of 5

    Mary

  14. 5 out of 5

    AnnieA

  15. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    "Nabs were, and still are, the king of a road trip, the salve on a workday."

  16. 5 out of 5

    Sharon Ringwalt

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kat

  18. 4 out of 5

    Elva

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kathryn H

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kathy

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

  22. 4 out of 5

    Frank

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sorien Schmidt

  24. 4 out of 5

    Crystal Joyce

  25. 5 out of 5

    Leigh Denny

  26. 4 out of 5

    Kelorekdar

  27. 5 out of 5

    Renuka

  28. 5 out of 5

    Mackenzie Nelsen

  29. 5 out of 5

    Laura

  30. 4 out of 5

    Patrick McGarry

    Great!

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