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Iconic Foods of Durham, NC

Are there items either shelf items (canned/bottled) or easily makeable that are representative of Durham, NC? A friend is having a going away party and I've been tasked with making a dish that is reminiscent of Durham. I, personally, don't think one exists.. at least not one that I'd be able to make vs. buy. I'm sourcing my chow hounders for feedback.

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  1. All that really comes to mind is bbq.

    1. Not sure what dish (if any) would be appropriate. But perhaps you could make something with Big Spoon Roasters peanut butter, Fullsteam beer, or Parlour ice cream. Maybe not "iconic", but good. Or perhaps make something that the Magnolia Grill was famous for, like the twice-baked grits souffle thing, though perhaps that's not "easily" makeable.

      1. Yeah I was not given much detail as to whether it should be something that can be taken with or what. Durham is a foodie town but there is not one item I can think of that would set it apart from some other place (that goes for the triangle and NC in general) IMHO.

        1. If you could replicate a BrightLeaf hot dog... now THAT would be a feat.

          7 Replies
          1. re: Kris in Beijing

            <you could replicate a BrightLeaf hot dog>

            Punishable by law in many states.

              1. re: Kris in Beijing

                Nope. I'm ticked off that they didn't choose the BullDog. I'm also ticked off that they switched from Hebrew National to Brightleaf and that's a much bigger problem, as far as I'm concerned.

            1. re: Kris in Beijing

              Not Kosher (friend is) and no way would I give them a hotdog that 1. Isn't that good and 2. Glows like it was made with nuclear waste :-)

              1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                Well there goes BBQ too. You can look at a collection of southern foods like cheese straws, pepper jelly, canned boiled peanuts, and locally bottled bbq sauce. Southern Seasons might be a good place to look plus they would be able to make a nice basket.

                1. re: chazzer

                  Thats what I'm starting to think. I know its not a Durham Institute but say Goodberry's or Parlour. Maybe a local brew.

                  1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                    I rather think of chicken and waffles as very Durham....if you replace the milk with soy/almond milk, butter with margarine, it' s kosher too.

            2. Here's a Chowhound thread on tobacco-infused foods:


                1. Maybe some This and That Jam to go along with some Big Spoon roasters peanut butter (even though I feel it might be over priced)

                  1. I was asked to do something similar for friends about ten years ago. They were leaving Chapel Hill. I called all the restaurants where they had eaten in Chapel Hill, across all price points and cuisines, and asked each restaurant to contribute a recipe for their going away gift. I then went to each restaurant and took a photo, sometimes including the staff, other times just the outside of the restaurant. I then put it all together in a nice book. Only one restaurant refused to participate, saying their recipes were "top secret" and they were getting ready to publish their own cookbook. That's been ten years ago and haven't seen the cookbook yet.

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: wintersummer

                      What a thoughtful gift! I really like this idea a lot. I'm guessing you won't tell, but I'd like to know what restaurant wasn't willing to play along.

                      1. re: LulusMom

                        I'll hint. It's a diner, still in business.

                          1. re: LulusMom

                            They are probably afraid of letting people know how much convenience items they use.

                          2. re: wintersummer

                            There is a diner in chapel hill? Maybe I'm trying to hard to think of places with diner in the title.

                          3. re: LulusMom

                            One more follow-up comment: The staff and chefs of every other restaurant were amazing with their time and generosity. Meaning, some of them only had the recipes in larger quantities and they said they needed some time to re-work the recipes for 6-8 serving sizes. They all called me back. Some restaurants offered more than one recipe, just seeming like they wanted me to take all their recipes. I think it's a honor to say that someone leaving Chapel Hill wants to be able to remember the town because of "their" food.