Book Excerpt

Tar Heel Traveler Eats:

Food Journeys Across North Carolina

As the Tar Heel Traveler, I set out to explore as many diners as I could, or as many as the news director would allow, and what a full journey it turned out to be, loaded with good food and good people.

 

It’s just that whenever I’d package one of these restaurant stories and watch my work unfold on air, my stomach would growl—and not just from hunger. A feeling gnawed at me that there might be something more to the stories, another layer I’d only tasted on the tip of my tongue.

 

The more restaurant stories I covered for WRAL, the more I grew aware of tapping into something else, something important, some special ingredient inherent in the landscape of diners that dot the back roads and main streets of North Carolina and which imbues North Carolina with flavor.

I have visited so many great little restaurants on my Tar Heel travels, sat at countless counters enjoying bacon and eggs, hot dogs and hamburgers, barbecue and biscuits and donuts and ice cream.

 

“Who’s got the best?” people always want to know. “Best barbecue?” they ask. “How ‘bout the hot dogs? Whaddya think? Where should I go for ice cream?”

 

I usually dodge the questions. Truth is, I hate to play favorites because I feel loyal to them all and don’t want to betray any place. I feel a kind of kinship with these landmarks, which is really what they are. And I hope they don’t fall by the wayside.

 

But I don’t think they will. Because I sense there are people like me who get up every day, walk out the door of their home and through the door of their other “home,” where they visit with friends they love. And, oh yeah, eat a good meal.

 

But it’s not the food that comes first. It never was about the food. 

© Scott Mason | Images used with permission from WRAL-TV.

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