Tuesday, July 7, 2009


Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations is another great blog I like. Bill Leslie is always starting a conversation with the NC masses and they respond. I've written twice. Importantly, recently he asked us to name our favorite NC product. That is so hard to do, but having recently made the potato salad for the 4th I remember how important pickles are to my cooking abilities. I always get Mount Olive Pickles, unless my mother-in-law has supplied me with her own creations. That is a treat, but a delicacy and rare treat.

I mean, I need pickles all year long for potato salad, or tuna salad, or chicken salad, or hot dog relish, or to dress up my table if company comes.

Believe me, if you are invited to a party where you have to bring a dish and you can get six or eight kinds of wonderful Mt. Olive pickles, relishes and what not from the grocery store, you can set out a platter full of color and uniqueness that likely no one else has thought of and be the hit of the party. It way above potato chips and equally as easy.

Mt. Olive Pickle Company is located in Mt. Olive, NC in Wayne county. The town is not much bigger than Elkin. The company was started by Shickrey Baddour, a Lebanese immigrant from nearby Goldsboro.

I remember my grandfather growing cucumbers to send to them and delivering them to the sorting place in Nash county. It was very cool to watch them roll along under the shed in the warm, summer sun. Almost better than Krispy Kreme donuts rolling under the icing machine. Watching cucumbers we were outside and the aroma of the fresh picked cukes was sweet as heaven.

Then, the pickles! Oh, just great and a must have. The website for Mt. Olive is interactive and fun for kids, but I discovered Revolutionary history as well. Read this from their site:

George Washington was a pickle enthusiast.

So were John Adams and Dolly Madison (from Greensboro).

Pickles inspired Thomas Jefferson to write the following: "On a hot day in Virginia, I know nothing more comforting than a fine spiced pickle, brought up trout-like from the sparkling depths of the aromatic jar below the stairs of Aunt Sally's cellar."

We're still trying to track down Aunt Sally's recipe.

Do you suppose that would be Sally Hemmings? You know they say the way to a man's heart is though his stomach.

In colonial America, the pickle patch was an important adjunct to good living. Pickles were highly regarded by all of America's pioneering generations because, under frontier conditions, pickles were the only zesty, juicy, green, succulent food available for many months of the year.

In colonial times, and, much later, on farms and in villages, homemakers expected to "put down" some pickles in stone crocks, and to "put up" some pickles and pickle relishes in glass jars.

I'm going to find some revolutionary references to Christmas trees, history of Sparta or Alleghany county, etc. before I write about that. Go to their sites anyway and also visit Bill Leslie at WRAL.

Bill is a wonderful musician as well. At Christmas, we turned on the TV to add some music to the afternoon while cooking and preparing the Christmas meal and there was Bill singing a spiritual we had just sung in the Elkin Community Chorus. Lovely. I was just thrilled. It's not every single day, you see people you know on TV...well, except Bill if you live in Raleigh.

Especially note his CD PEACEFUL JOURNEY: A CELEBRATION OF NORTH CAROLINA which has a song about the Overmountain men. He is related to Col. McDowell from Quaker Meadows.

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