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The official start of summer is Memorial Day. Memorial Day is a federal holiday that is celebrated the last Monday in May which is today. This day is a day to commemorate the men and women who died in military service. The summer weather started already in early April here in North Carolina. Most days in April and May have been +25C or more. There were a few days at the end of March when we could sit outdoors till late in the evening without it getting cold.  For many the Memorial Day weekend starts already Friday. It’s not only in Sweden when work slows down the day before a holiday* and people

North Carolina style grill

take the day of or is “tjänsteärend resten av dagen” (gone on official business for the rest of the day) or “möte åter 17:30” (in a meeting back 5:30 PM) when you try to reach them at 10 AM. That was what Friday was like for me. Many people are gone for the whole weekend. The parking lot at my grocery store was not packed as it usually is on a Friday. People go to their beach houses and get them ready for the summer. The water is +20-25C along the Atlantic coast in North Carolina this time of the year. For those of use that doesn’t have a beach house (at least not along the North Carolina coast)  have to stick with the grill on the back porch. And that ain’t bad. Here, food is so much more than just food. It’s culture, a way of living. As a Skåning (Skåne is the southern province of Sweden, Skåning=Southerner) I feel right at home. Just like the south in America the south in Sweden is the nations center for good food and good cookin’. Grilling is an important part of southern cookin’ and

Swedish style grill (disposable)

here it’s an art form. Anything less than a Weber Extra Special Heavy Duty 1050 grill is not much

Disposable grill after used

to have.  If you don’t want to grill at home, take the grill with you on a trailer or on the back of your car. Skåne have not mastered the art of grilling yet. I would probably say no one in Scandinavia have. It’s kind of pathetic compared to the North Carolina art form of grilling.  The most exiting grilling experiences in Sweden is to take your engångsgrill (disposable grill) and go to a park or the beach and have mediocre pre-processed and package hot dogs or hamburgers and maybe a peace of chicken. No delicious sides. Engångsgrill got to be one of the most hideous invention ever in the world of food, the death of good grilling. There is no way of controlling temperature of the food you are cooking, limited space to have some grilled veggies and limited time you can cook. It’s just mind-boggling that an environmentally conscious country like Sweden would even allow this environmental disastrous aluminum thing to exist. Bringing an engångsgrill to North Carolina and you will be deported for life!

Memorial Day food is everything that goes on a grill and with that you need some great craft beers. Lets start with the food. Hamburgers and brats is everyone’s favorite. With just a little bit of effort you can make great burgers and brats. I

Grilling the North Carolina way

usually go to Durham Farmers Market an get ground beef from bison. That makes great hamburgers. My grocery store, Whole Foods Market have great grass-fed beef ground in the store and store made brats in many verities. Ad some good seasoning and together with fresh lettuce, tomatoes from the garden, home made pickles, grilled peppers, carrots, mushrooms and you will have burgers and brats light years tastier than any fast food or pre-packaged food in the universe. Smoked barbecued brisket (bringa) is another favorite of mine. And then there are the sides. Potato salads, pasta salads, North Carolina coleslaw made with cider vinegar and ketchup goes great with BBQ, Carolina Barbecue Beans that includes smoked pork. The side salads make the southern BBQ meal complete. Freshly picked local lettuce and tomatoes,

Grilling the Swedish way

nuts and avocado (not so local). A BBQ wouldn’t be a BBQ without macaroni and cheese (yes, that is a side salad in the south). If you still think you have room for dessert you can probably find many verities of pies, sweet potato, cherry, pecan-chocolate, cheese cakes and brownies, maybe made with stout. My all time favorite southern food is North Carolina Pulled Pork. Pulled Pork is slowly cooked pork on low temperature, 110 C for 8-12 hours. After the cooking it’s easy to pull the meat from the bones. The North Carolina style Pulled Pork is served with a vinegar based spicy hot sauce.

With all this great food you need some good beer. An American Pale Ale will probably go

Grill trailer

with any kind of food from the grill. The strong hops flavors will  go great with the spices of the barbecue sauce and the malt from the beer will match the meat. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is probably the best known American Pale Ale. Hopback Amber Ale from Troegs Brewing and Firestone Walker Brewing Double Barrel Ale are also good beers with spicy BBQ food. Fire Stone Walker have recently become one of my favorite breweries. Here in Durham, Full Steam Brewery will open soon ans they will specialize in beer and southern cooking. Some of their beer are already available at special events. Their Plow to Pint series “is Fullsteam’s mad science — radical Southern brewing not bound to tradition or to style. The common theme? Plow-to-pint beers are

Take the grill with you!

crafted with Southern farmed ingredients…going local, seasonal, and organic whenever possible”. Their beer is made to go with southern cooking. I have had the pleasure of tasting their Hog Wash which is a smoked porter that matches the hot, smoked cuisine, significant for North Carolina.

The best place to be for great food is North Carolina. Iowa, Illinois and Kansas, with their gigantic mass production food factories might be the states that produce the most farm products in America, but North Carolina have the many small, local farms with delicious products grown by farmers with passion. And it’s the same with the breweries. North Carolina breweries brew beer with passion and that have made North Carolina to one of Americas top 3 beer states.

You can read more about southern food and southern beer on Southern Foodways Alliance and North Carolina Brewers Guild website.

*In Scandinavia this happens during klämdag (squeeze day or bridge day) too. Klämdag is a phenomenon that is pretty much unknown here. We have significantly less holidays here and most of them are on a Monday or a Friday. A squeeze day is the day, most often a Friday or a Monday (sometimes even Thursday and Friday or Monday and Tuesday) between a holiday and the weekend. Friday after Thanksgiving would be a squeeze day in Scandinavia and impossible to get anything done at work.
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