It's no secret that the Triangle is the place to eat. Praises for our farms and restaurants are continually sung in pages well beyond these. What may be lesser known, however, is that the Triangle is increasingly becoming the place to study food as well.
Food scholars and students from campuses throughout the area unite regularly as TUFS (Triangle University Food Studies, triangleuniversityfoodstudies.wordpress.com), which recently hosted Shared Tables: A Triangle Symposium on Global and Local Food Studies. CHOP NC (Culinary Historians of Piedmont North Carolina, chopnc.com) gathers at Flyleaf Books and presents lectures and readings about our regional foodways. Each spring, Meredith College hosts its Film Feastival (filmfeastival.blogspot.com) to foster dialogue about a food-related issue.
And May 4 and 5, N.C. State University hosts scholars and historians for Food + History: From Theory to Practice (history.ncsu.edu/food), a conference supported by the departments of history and food science.
The event begins Friday at 4 p.m. with a panel discussion about food in the American South led by UNC professors Marcie Cohen Ferris and Alice Ammerman, as well as David Cecelski, an independent scholar who writes about food for the North Carolina Folklife Institute. At 6:30 p.m., writer Mark Kurlansky, who has penned books including The Food of a Younger Land and Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World, talks about frozen food and his latest book, Birdseye: The Adventures of a Curious Man.
Saturday finds five panels between 8:30 a.m. and 5:15 p.m., including Contested Foods and Spaces, From Local to Global: Foods as International Commodities, Changing Ideas about Nutrition and Health, Current Trends in Food Production and Consumption, and a roundtable conclusion.
Friday's events are open to the public. Register for Saturday on the event's website. Admission is $10 or $20 with lunch (for students, free or $10).
For more in food studies, join CHOP NC at 7 p.m. on May 16 at Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill. Sociologist and author John Shelton Reed, who co-wrote Holy Smoke: The Big Book of North Carolina Barbecue, will discuss the destiny of slow-cooked pork.
Looking ahead, another North Carolina barbecue scholar will lead a talk later this summer. Mark your calendars now for July 12 at Quail Ridge Books & Music in Raleigh, as Bob Garner will present his newest book, Bob Garner's Book of Barbecue: North Carolina's Favorite Food.
Speaking of barbecue, visit the Fire Pit BBQ & Smokehouse in Wake Forest (firepitnc.com), which opened in late March. Though it may be new, the Fire Pit's methods are old. Pork shoulders, beef brisket and chicken are smoked over hickory and oak.
Claurice Ohlen, who helps manage the restaurant and create its desserts, says there is no freezer. "Everything is made fresh, in-house"—from pork sausage to lemon meringue pie.
The Fire Pit is open Tuesday–Sunday 11 a.m.–9 p.m.
Know of a restaurant happening or food event? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.