Chapel Hill Magazine July/August 2022

Page 48

Best Of Chapel Hill

Cooking Like We Mean It The chef behind Lantern talks cooking and eating in one of the best places in the world in an essay from a new UNC Press book By A n d re a Re u s in g


July/August 2022

ive months into the COVID-19 pandemic, a highprofile food writer tweeted part of a letter he had received from a food colleague: “The nastiness that seems to permeate the national conversation in the U.S. has seeped into food as well. No longer is it a way to bring people together, but just another way to find fault with other people and to drive people away.” Before that moment, this statement would have drifted by unnoticed, but that day it was uniformly contested, and the writer doubled down: “For 200,000 years. [Food] did, does and will.” The idea that food is an inherently unifying force that transcends systemic racism contradicts reality and contorts history. When I moved to North Carolina from New York in 1995, I also believed that food had the power to defy differences and bring people together. I had no understanding of my own role in the system of white supremacy on which our food choices depend. I naively believed that progressive policy and market-driven consumer choice could make radical change. I also had no idea that I was moving to one of the best places to cook and eat in the world. The first time I went to the Carrboro Farmers Market, it was still shaded by the remains of an old textile mill. The best eggs (and stewing hens) came from vegetarian farmer Cathy Jones and her stonemason partner, Mike Perry. His enormous wood-burning oven in their pasture was the center of an open-invitation Fourth of July picnic that hundreds attended. Stanley Hughes was growing vegetables and raising hogs, chickens and organic tobacco on his third-generation 100-year-old farm Pine Knot Farms. He introduced me to okra so tender and juicy you could eat it raw. A former Long Island fisherman turned farmer, John Soehner, shared advice and gallows humor, along with free boxes of vegetables and flowers to cooks who passed by his stand. Across the street was Tom Robinson’s seafood market,

Favorite Asian restaurant overall restaurant Upscale restaurant