This last week I had the privilege of taking my family to my favorite childhood vacation destination, the Outer Banks of North Carolina. We were welcomed with true southern hospitality by an old family friend and enjoyed the long journey, admiring the farms I had grown up near along the way.
There are many things that say North Carolina to me. The first flavor that usually comes to mind is the traditional barbecue found in the rural southeastern portion of the state, but another delicious flavor is fresh seafood from the Atlantic or the Sound, found in abundance there. It was always a special treat when I was a child and we went to a seafood restaurant on a weekend or holiday, sometimes by boat.
We dined in several restaurants that had ladder-back chairs and were decorated by mounted fish and black and white photographs of days gone by. Here they served “real” sweet-tea, hush puppies, cole slaw, and your choice of fresh seafood, usually fried.
On Sunday, after church, we also prepared our own feast at home with fresh caught shrimp as a low county boil, and crab that my son, Max, had caught while he was learning how to set a crab pot. Whether you’re eating barbecue or seafood, cole slaw is the standard staple in North Carolina. Many restaurants build their reputation on the quality and flavor of the slaw they serve. It’s refreshing crunch and sweetness is a great compliment to whatever southern dish is being enjoyed.
I was very excited when my hostess told me she was famous for her slaw…and then she showed me how to make it! The key, she said secretly as she started making the dish, is that you have to hand-grate your own cabbage. By doing so, it has the best texture and some of the natural juices of the cabbage are released and help incorporate the dressing. Max and Madeline both agree that her cole slaw is delicious.
I always feel that I have stepped back in time when I take a trip to North Carolina. Perhaps this is because I have so many memories of my childhood there or because I am able to step away from the usual demands of my life and work while on vacation. It was so much fun to tell my children stories of the places we went and adventures I had there when I was their age. I am sad to go back to the busyness of our daily routine, and I cannot wait to return to Carolina again and share more memories of my life there with my kids. I thought I would share this recipe with you as a souvenir of our summer trip. Special thanks to Gran-Gale for sharing…we miss you already!
Cole Slaw (sometimes written coleslaw) is a salad made of raw sliced or chopped cabbage. The word originated from the Dutch word ‘koolsla’, a combination of the words Kool (cabbage) and sla (salad). First known use of the word: 1794 [Merriam-Webster Dictionary]