Things I Learned From Bob Garner’s New Book

Bob Garner is kind of a joke between Steven and I. I always DVR the show North Carolina Weekend on the local PBS affiliate because sometimes it gives me ideas about cool things to do. Also, I have become fake-frenemies with everyone on it. For instance, when the host, Deborah Holt Noel, has her coworkers going to some wooden duck museum while she gets to check out the hottest new restaurant in Raleigh, YEAH, I SEE WHAT YOU’RE DOING, GIRL. It’s fine. I would abuse my power too, if I had any.

But Bob Garner is definitely the most hilarious part of North Carolina Weekend. He reviews restaurants in the measured, dulcet tones of Mitch McConnell. It’s basically watching an old guy eat and then proclaiming everything delicious, so Top Chef it’s not. He never has complaints, and you can only tell the variation in the dishes based on the noises he makes, usually some variation of “Mmmmmmm-mmmmmm”. But is it with his eyes closed or open? Does he turn his face upward towards the camera as if basking in the pure, heavenly perfection of this fish sandwich/hushpuppy/pie? Clearly I have too much time on my hands.

Then one day at the library I noticed he’d written a book:

The Book

The Book

FOODS THAT MAKE YOU SAY MMM-MMM!!!!!!! I had to check it out. There are definitely some good recipes inside, but most of it is history and information about various North Carolina foods. I actually learned a lot. Including:

1. Bob Garner completely owns being Bob Garner

BOB GARNER KNOWS THAT HE IS SEMI-RIDICULOUS!!!!! This changes everything. Check out this author photo:

This man knows exactly what he's doing

This man knows exactly what he’s doing

The fact that Bob Garner is in on the joke that is Bob Garner is amazing. I feel less bad for mimicking him stupidly whenever Steven makes me a smoothie now. Plus, he actually does seem to know a lot of stuff about North Carolina foods. I should have known that WUNC wouldn’t put just any old dude in front of a camera to eat pimento cheese.

2. Atkinson Milling

This mill is an hour from my house, and has been operating since 1757!!! These are two invaluable facts for me to know.

And it looks pretty!

And it looks pretty!

The grinding of the cornmeal is still done with water power, and it’s the only remaining water-powered mill in a four county area (at least)!

3. Muscadine and scuppernongs

These are the two kinds of grapes native to North Carolina! They make delicious wine, but I didn’t know that a scuppernong is actually a type of muscadine. “North Carolinians refer to any bronze- or greenish-hued muscadines as scuppernongs… because many cuttings of what was first simply called “the big white grape” were planted and cultivated during the 1700s around Asupernung river” (52).

They are "about the size of a hog's eye"

They are “about the size of a hog’s eye”

Apparently these grapes are also one of the healthiest and sweetest varieties in the world. The hot, humid climate of eastern NC is prone to fungal diseases, so the grapes produce extra antioxidants to protect themselves. Bob Garner also provides recipes from the annual North Carolina Muscadine Harvest Festival, which is awesome because I really only knew about them from wine. This includes Sparkling Oatmeal Muffins, Chicken Vegetable Kabobs with Muscadine Barbecue Sauce, Muscadine Nachos, and Muscadine Grape Hull Pie.

4. National Banana Pudding Festival

Oh my god y’all there is a National Banana Pudding Festival and it is in Centerville, Tennessee! THAT IS LIKE HALF AN HOUR FROM WHERE MY PARENTS ARE GOING TO RETIRE OMG.

This is just all I want out of life

This is just all I want out of life

What I’m saying is, Banana Pudding Festival 2017, I AM IN.

5. Texas Pete

I don’t want to alarm you, but Texas Pete is actually from North Carolina.



The company started as a barbecue stand in 1929 in Winston-Salem. The red pepper sauce was apparently almost named “Mexian Joe” except DAMNIT, WE ARE AMERICAN AND PROUD or something. Steven was crushed to lose yet another piece of his Texas pride.

4 responses to “Things I Learned From Bob Garner’s New Book”

  1. Steven says:

    This blow to my Texas pride is deep, but it will pull through somehow. We still lay claim to longhorn beef, at least!

  2. Uncle Bill says:

    Take heart, Steven!

    Those low life BBQ bastards in NC knew that that the only way they could sell cayenne pepper sauce was to call it TEXAS Pete. “NC Pete” wouldn’t have had the necessary appeal to be a viable national brand. It’s just like branding in the the pizza business:

    NY = thin

    Chicago = pan

    NC = Domino’s (late)

    When I think pepper sauces for chicken wings, I think, “North Carolina made” Texas Pete hot sauce…..

  3. Scuppernongs is my new favorite word

  4. Brian says:

    True story: as a 10- or 11-year-old, I heard the word “scuppernong” but did not know what it meant. Naturally, I assumed it was a pirate slang word, like landlubber or grog.

    So I went around saying, “Avast, ye scuppernongs!”

    This went on for a while.

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