I stand by those roadside stands
I have many memories of my high-school years spent in Spartanburg, S.C. Yes, many of those memories have to do with food.
Although Georgia is known as the peach state, South Carolina produces more peaches than Georgia. To make note of that fact, Gaffney, S.C., erected a water tower shaped and colored like a peach about 32 years ago.
Well, in about a month, all along Interstate 85, peach stands will become active, not to mention the fireworks stands next to them.
Living in Spartanburg for three years, peaches were easily accessible. I ate my share of whole peaches, sliced peaches with my cereal and the best way to eat peaches — homemade peach ice cream.
Recalling those roadside peach stands reminds me of all the other fresh produce I’ve obtained over the years from roadside stands.
When I worked at the Free Lance-Star newspaper in Fredericksburg, Va., from September 1991 to March 1997, I would take a week’s vacation each year at the same beach house at Emerald Isle. The house had a name — Seine Asylum.
Knowing that buying groceries can be expensive at the beach, I would buy my less-expensive groceries inland, but I would not buy produce. I had places for that, and those places were roadside stands in North Carolina.
On N.C. Highway 58 near Snow Hill, there was a roadside stand that offered some of the best sweet corn I’ve ever had. I’d buy a dozen ears for corn on the cob, slathered in butter and sprinkled with salt and pepper. I’d also buy cucumbers there. Those cucumbers would marinate overnight with sliced onions and tomatoes in vinegar to make a cool, refreshing salad.
A bit farther down N.C. 58, just on the other side of Kinston, I would stop at another roadside stand for the biggest, juiciest tomatoes in the area, as far as I could find. Yep, those red, ripe orbs were the key ingredient in ’mater sandwiches or as part of a cheeseburger grilled over mesquite wood (bought by the bagful at a specialty store in Fredericksburg). The same roadside stand provided me with yellow squash and onions. You know how tasty those items are when browned with a bit of bacon grease, then cooked down.
On a stretch of road where U.S. Highway 17 and N.C. 58 run together, there was another roadside stand, this one in Jones County. This roadside stand was where I stopped for blueberries.
I bought plenty of them. I had blueberry muffins, blueberry smoothies, blueberry pancakes, homemade blueberry ice cream and blueberries by the handful during beach week.
I’d like to retrace that route this summer, stopping at each of those roadside stands, if they are still in their respective locations.
If someone has a beach house, I’ve got items that will “produce” a great week at the beach.
Mike Voss covers the city of Washington for the Washington Daily News. Alas, a trip to the Crystal Coast isn’t the same now that The Circle at Atlantic Beach and Jungleland are gone.