The call of carnies. The largest pig you’ve ever seen. The cotton candy. The midway. The chocolate-dipped bacon. The rides that click up, up, up, then, suddenly—drop—and the shrieks of the riders as they fall. And up they go again. All the many-colored lights—the fried food—the livestock clucking, hopping, mooing. And the crowds, crowds, crowds on these crisp October nights.
That’s right—it’s that time of year again: The North Carolina State Fair. And this year was only my second time round, though I’m a native North Carolinian. I’ve got to say, it wowed me. I went, on the first, rainy, cold night—preview night—to help Our Very Own UNCP author Foy Allen Edelman display a beautiful set of cookbooks from and about North Carolina, including her own book Sweet Carolina: Favorite Desserts and Candies from the Old North State. At “Carolina Cooks,” in the Gov. Kerr Scott Building–you’ll find the booth right between the handpainted parasols and the Wake County Sheriff’s department, just a few doors down from peanuts and steam mops and slushies and award-winning artwork from the children and adults of our state.
What to say about this, besides, of course, if you haven’t been. . . . Go!
There are so many enticements, from deep-fried ho-hos to the midway rides, the age-guessers, the gigantic sweet potatoes, baby donkeys, and festive chickens. Not to mention actual award-winning desserts from cooks and bakers across our fine land. Pies. Cakes. Fudge.
This last category is exactly what Foy captures in Sweet Carolina—recipes and stories from all 100 counties! Of course, if you ask Foy who wrote the book, she won’t claim full ownership. Instead, she’ll tell you about all the cooks she visited over the course of the last few years, and she’ll give full credit to her coauthors.
They are cooks of all stripes. And Foy and her friends are at the booth, from now till the end of the fair. She’s selling books, of course, and signing them, and handing out recipes for peanut brittle. And she’s there to chat—about what foods you grew up with, about the foods that still fill your dreams, if not your belly. For me, it’s my grandmother’s fried apple pies. I remember how she’d pick the apples in late summer, how she’d sit on the glider on the front porch and slice them against her thumb. Then, how she’d climb on top of the house. On a sunny day, she’d lay out a bed-sheet up there, and spread them on the tin roof to dry. And later, the sizzle in the skillet, and if I was lucky, they’d still be warm when the bus dropped me at the end of the lane.
Foy is a collector of these stories, these recipes, and our shared culinary history, as she is a collector of cookbooks from across the state and across the years. So, come and drop by, take a look at her book, and maybe take a copy home with you.
In addition to Foy’s lovely book, she’s selling others—fancy a new devilled egg recipe? Or tailgating ideas? Also take a look at Holy Smoke, a book in celebration of our unique past and present relationship with BBQ, as well as the time-tested recipes of Chapel Hill’s very own Mama Dip.
So won’t you stop by? You’ll be glad you did.
–Beth Lassiter, Editorial Assistant
p.s. At the fair, Foy will be at the booth where you see this banner: