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Sep 11, 2001 09:57 AM

local foods of North Carolina

  • b

Does anyone have any thoughts on foods local to north carolina?

there's the obvious, barbecue, and the correlatives like brunswick stew, and the ever disappearing fried cornbread, but what about the other stuff? so far I've found:

Ramps (an onion of sorts, there's a ramp festival in I think Henderson every year that I'm going to try to get to)

Squirrel Nut Candy Zippers

muscadines, my new love, and scuppernongs, which I haven't tried yet.

anyone know of any products or produce local to NC?


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  1. Pimiento Cheese Sandwiches! No matter what the occasion, no matter how fancy, when they list the foods served, they always mention pimiento cheese sandwiches. Until I lived in NC I'd never had one and since I've moved to the DC area I haven't seen or heard about pimiento cheese sandwiches. They're all good but I remember having one at Pyewacket that was especially delicious.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Anova
      Katherine Williams

      Pimento Cheese is not indigenous to North Carolina, its more a general Southern food. In fact Southern Living did a little story on it this past Summer. However, two great places in the Raleigh area to get good homemade pimento cheese sandwiches are Hayes Barton Cafe and Dessertery, where they have Grilled Pimento Cheese sandwiches on the menu. Now that's a great twist to the old favorite! Hayes Barton is right in the heart of the Five Points area of Raleigh on Fairview just off Glenwood Avenue. They have a wonderful old soda shop atmosphere with a WWII theme including 1940s music. Also AWESOME desserts. Definitely worth the trip, but expect to search awhile for a parking spot. The other great pimento cheese place is in downtown Apex at the Salem Street Soda Shop on Salem Street. Everytime I go there, the firemen from down the road are eating there, so you know its good. Posting a link and pic. of Hayes Barton below.



      1. re: Anova

        Your pimento cheese sandwich MUST be on white wonderbread with real mayonaise, and should sit for a bit before eating !!

        1. re: Linda Mac

          There's also the jalapeno pimiento cheese omelette at Mary's of Course in W-S! So good!

          1. re: Linda Mac

            I love pimiento cheese, but not on white bread. In desperation one night, I spread the cheese on a ginger snap and a star was born! The more peppery and gingery the cookie, the better. I know it sounds odd, but the flavors marry beautifully. I went away for New Year's weekend and my friend's mom had made a tub of pimiento cheese - I went out and bought a box of Peek Freen's Ginger Crisps and introduced me friends to the combo - they though I was nuts, but then ate the entire tub of cheese with the ginger snaps!

        2. I'd consider liver pudding a native North Carolina food. I had never seen it till junior year at Carolina when my roommate returned triumphant from the grocery store with a grey brick of pig liver. I was skeptical at first, but it was quite tasty in a fried sandwich.

          Blue skies,

          1. k
            Katherine Williams

            Here is a list of food-related things that are native to North Carolina:

            Mount Olive Pickles (from you guessed it, Mount Olive, NC)

            I always thought Duke's Mayonnaise was local to NC, named after the university in Durham, (and because I'd never heard of it til moving here), but it is named after the founder, Eugenia Duke of Greenville, SC.

            Cheerwine - a cherry-flavored soda invented in Salisbury, NC (between Charlotte and Greensboro) and only sold in a small handful of nearby states. During youth group trips from Atlanta to the NC Mountains in the late eightes we regularly stocked up. Now its found in Atlanta and you can order it online at (Hurray for e-commerce!
            Pepsi - another soda invented in NC, but in New Bern. Sorry I can't give you any more details because I'm a native Atlantan and Coke is tops with me, but New Bern is a neat town. I believe it was NC's capitol at one time.

            Pig Pickin' - a strictly North Carolina term for a BBQ event where the pig is selected that morning then slaughtered and roasted whole over a grill. Lots of places around the state offer to do it all for you, just provide your truck or SUV and they hitch up the grill with pig inside and you grill it all day. Fun stuff.

            Pack o' Nabs - another colloquialism coming from North Carolina. It means those 6-packs of peanut butter and/or cheese crackers you get out of vending machines or at the convenience store. Nabs, short for Nabisco, I suppose, but all the ones I ever see around here are produced by Lance, Inc. in Charlotte. Hmmmm....

            1 Reply
            1. re: Katherine Williams

              Cheerwine might only be sold in a couple states, but it's not unique. I'm from PA and we had Cherokee Red and it was pretty much the same thing.

            2. Does anyone remember Spanish Bar? A delicious spice cake with white frosting that was sold at A & P groceries for decades? Yum!

              1 Reply
              1. re: Linda Mac

                Not only remember it, I regularly give out recipes for it. It's one of the recipes Charlotte Observer readers request constantly. There is still a version of it being sold in the Vermont Country Store catalog.

              2. Hatteras clam chowder - broth based rather than cream (New England) or tomato (Manhattan). Named after Cape Hatteras, NC.

                13 Replies
                1. re: mojoeater

                  Texas Pete hot sauce and Krispy Kreme doughnuts, courtesy of Winston-Salem. And Lexington-style and Eastern-style BBQ.

                  But I don't think NC alone can claim ramps.

                  1. re: mojoeater

                    Broth based chowder is also known as Rhode Island clam chowder. I would tend to favor the Rhode Island term, as there do not seem to be any quahogs in NC, the main ingredient in clam chowder. I guess you could get away with using the tinier little necks or cherrystones if you had to.

                    1. re: joshuahmel

                      No quahogs in NC? Ha! I've dug plenty from the mud.

                      1. re: Cake Ladies

                        One of my favorite things as a kid was clam-diggin' on the Outer banks. All the chowder down there is made with local clams.

                        1. re: Cake Ladies

                          Then why do they not sell them at fish markets in NC?

                          1. re: joshuahmel

                            quahogs are the big clams, best for stewing rather than eating from the shell, so they don't often show up at markets. Find a good clam house and call ahead to tell them you want them. Red Barn in Onslow is a great market, but I'm guessing if you hunt around, you'll find one close to you if you're near the coast.

                          2. re: Cake Ladies

                            I think quahogs are the same as little necks. I'm not sure, but I think so.

                            1. re: Stack8

                              Both little necks and cherry stones are types of quahogs or at the least sizes of quahogs. The clams that go by the name quahogs are the extra big ones, which it is my understanding are not that good to eat outside of chowder or a fritter because they are too tough. (Am not normally a reference on clams but just finished Saveur which happened to have an article on Rhode Island clam shacks in it. Made me want to get to the New England coast pronto!)

                              1. re: jean9

                                I read that article too! I made those "Stuffies"! I got a dozen cherrystone clams and then supplemented the clams with some canned clams. The recipe called for just canned clams but who has 24 empty quahogs shells lying around (well, I do now)? They were gobbled up at a party and everyone has asked for the recipe.

                                1. re: southernitalian

                                  I am glad to hear you had such good results with the recipe. I will have to give it a try. Where did you purchase your clams?

                                  1. re: southernitalian

                                    Stuffies are made with quahogs, not cherrystones. Jean9 is correct: hard-shell clams come in three different sizes: littlenecks (small), cherrystones (medium), and quahogs (large). They all have different uses. In New England, we also have soft-shell clams (steamers), which are eaten steamed or deep fried in batter.

                                    1. re: joshuahmel

                                      The ones I got at Harris Teeter were labeled Cherrystones but were about as big a clam as I would be comfortable eating. Spent my summers on Martha's Vineyard and went to school in Boston so I've seen all kinds of clams. I don't care what they're called, they were good!