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The Carolina Table: North Carolina Writers on Food

Randall Kenan, editor

Eno Publishers
$17.95 paperback
280 pages
November 2016

At the intersection of food and story, The Carolina Table: North Carolina Writers on Food offers a collection of food-related stories set in North Carolina, though geography is sometimes secondary to the main theme, which is food in any form: meals and manners, cooking and ingredients, recipes and recollections. Novelist Michael Parker writes about his mother's reluctant, but exclamation-point-laden food column for her husband's newspaper; Celia Rivenbark remembers her summer job at the only sit-down restaurant in her eastern Carolina hometown; chef and former vegetarian Cathy Cleary reveals what led her to sit down to a pork dinner. Bridgette Lacy celebrates mid-summer "Mater Days" in newsrooms of daily papers where she worked. Writer and goat farmer Tom Rankin writes about taking his goats to be slaughtered by a halal butcher from Afghanistan in Sanford. John McElwee takes us to the annual celebratory Blue Monday shad fry along the Cape Fear River. The collection is edited by Randall Kenan, an award-winning novelist and food writer. Some of North Carolina's favorite writers regale us with stories: Lee Smith, Daniel Wallace, Marianne Gingher, Jill McCorkle, Jaki Shelton Green, Wayne Caldwell, Marcie Cohen Ferris, Michael McFee, Zelda Lockhart, Crook's Corner's popular chef Bill Smith, noted cookbook author Nancie McDermott, and many others.



Daniel Wallace
Marianne Gingher
Jaki Shelton Green
Lee Smith
Celia Rivenbark
Jill McCorkle
Bill Smith
Bridgette Lacy
Tom Rankin
Richard Chess
Wayne Caldwell
Zelda Lockhart
Emily Wallace
Elizabeth S.D. Engelhardt
William Ferris
Fran McCullough
Diya Abdo
Paul Cuadros
Moreton Neal
Jeffery Beam
Marcie Cohen Ferris
Sheila Smith McKoy
Sophia Woo
Nancie McDermott
John McElwee
Lenard D. Moore
Michael Parker
Heather Newton
Michael McFee
Cathy Cleary
Stephen Petrow


"In his novels and short stories, Randall Kenan has proved a master of place making. In The Carolina Table, he renders place through food, framing North Carolina in 'ballads to hunger' and 'hymns of satiation.' This choir sings of cheese puffs straight from the bag and pollo de la brassa straight from Peru, while connecting the Fertile Crescent of the Middle East and the Piedmont of North Carolina. Smart, inclusive, generous, and, at times, evocatively random, The Carolina Table sets a national standard for food writing collections."

—John T Edge, author of The Potlikker Papers: A Food History of the Modern South

"Read The Carolina Table and you pull up your chair to the best groaning boards in the state. Randall Kenan’s choices are acute, delicious, and big-hearted. I love the family lore, the discourse on butter beans, the recipe for grape hull pie, free use of the word 'fatback,' and the elements of cleaning crab—beer, a hose, mosquitos. Most of all, I love the humor and the quirky voices of my Southern brethren." 

—Frances Mayes, author of Under the Tuscan Sun and most recently Under Magnolia: A Southern Memoir

"If it's true that by knowing what we eat, we know who we are, then The Carolina Table serves us up a cultural treasury of Southern food and how to cook it, eat it and pass it down through generations. This is our Anatomy of the Culinary. Tar Heel essayists, journalists, novelists, poets, chef and critics evocatively fill the pages of The Table with reminiscences particular to them but resonate for all: how food and the inheritance of recipes construct our holiday rituals, our family reunions, our shared memories. From the region's beloved classics, like shrimp and grits, pecan pie, barbecue, and fried chicken, from the traditional products of its fisheries and farms and dairies (the crab, pork, greens and beans, and buttermilk), to today's modern local celebrity chefs and restaurants, The Carolina Table sets out an absolute banquet of a book.  Have a seat and welcome to the feast." 

—Michael Malone, author of Handling Sin and Four Corners of the Sky