North Carolina - The Tarheel State
Updated: Jun 5, 2022
Unofficial Slogan: First in Flight
Suggested Slogan: First to Fight over Barbecue
Two Truths and a Lie
North and South Carolina were originally one colony named in honor of France's Carolingian Empire as it expanded to the Americas.
At the start of the 19th century, “Tar Heel” was a slur against the workers who converted pine trees into turpentine, tar, and pitch - vital supplies for the shipping industry. During the Civil War, North Carolina's soldiers used the nickname with pride. The positive connotation was cemented in the 1880s when the University of North Carolina adopted the name for its mascot.
Thousands of ships have sunk just off North Carolina’s coast. Violent storms plus constantly shifting inlets and bays doomed so many crews, they call it the Graveyard of the Atlantic.
The Recipe - Tarheel Breakfast Cookies
North Carolina has three distinct geographic areas. Mountains dominate the western region, specifically the picturesque Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains. The Piedmont area (French for “foot of the mountain”) extends across the middle of the state and is home to the largest cities: Charlotte, Raleigh, and Greensborough. Coastal Plains dominate the east where the land is low and flat. The sandy soil and warm climate of the Coastal Plains enable North Carolina to grow more sweet potatoes than any other state in the nation. The tuber is officially celebrated as the state vegetable.
I love cooking with pureed sweet potato which adds an earthy flavor and substantial nutrition boost to any baked good. Two former University of North Carolina cross-country runners turned me onto this idea. Elyse Kopecky and Shalane Flanagan published a cookbook called “Run Fast Eat Slow” which includes a recipe for sweet potato breakfast cookies. I have made it countless times and only wanted to make a few tiny tweaks to honor the state where they first met.
In addition to cinnamon and ginger, I added freshly grated nutmeg to the dough because it pairs so nicely with sweet potato. The original recipe called for raisins but I went with dried blueberries because they are the official state blue berry. The state red berry is the strawberry and the state fruit is the Scuppernong grape. North Carolina’s house and senate backed different fruits in 2001 leading to fierce debate which was part of the state’s longest and most expensive legislative session. Despite calls for a veto, the Governor signed the grape/strawberry/blueberry compromise bill to put an end to it all.
I love these cookies. The dried blueberries are a great touch. These are gluten-free and vegan without sacrificing any deliciousness. I can’t wait to make them again.
Want to experience North Carolina for yourself? Then Teresa recommends ...
I had high hopes to visit North Carolina by the time I wrote this post, but air travel has become wildly expensive as of late. So I shall just have to dream of flying into Charlotte and enjoying some delicious barbecue before road-tripping to the mountains for stunning hikes and rock climbing if I’m feeling brave. In the meantime, I’ll sit at home and reread David Sedaris’s hilarious essay collection “Me Talk Pretty One Day.” The stories centered around his childhood in suburban Raleigh are particularly entertaining.
Time for the whole truth
Carolina is named in honor of the English King Charles I. Carolus is the Latin form of Charles.
(By the way, you can click on any of the 2 truths and a lie statements to visit the source of the trivia)