The Month of Their Ripening

North Carolina Heritage Foods through the Year

By Georgann Eubanks

288 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 35 halftones, bibl., index

  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-1-4696-4083-9
    Published: July 2018
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-4082-2
    Published: September 2018
  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-6615-0
    Published: August 2021
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-5399-8
    Published: July 2018

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Telling the stories of twelve North Carolina heritage foods, each matched to the month of its peak readiness for eating, Georgann Eubanks takes readers on a flavorful journey across the state. She begins in January with the most ephemeral of southern ingredients—snow—to witness Tar Heels making snow cream. In March, she takes a midnight canoe ride on the Trent River in search of shad, a bony fish with a savory history. In November, she visits a Chatham County sawmill where the possums are always first into the persimmon trees.

Talking with farmers, fishmongers, cooks, historians, and scientists, Eubanks looks at how foods are deeply tied to the culture of the Old North State. Some have histories that go back thousands of years. Garlicky green ramps, gathered in April and traditionally savored by many Cherokee people, are now endangered by their popularity in fine restaurants. Oysters, though, are enjoying a comeback, cultivated by entrepreneurs along the coast in December. These foods, and the stories of the people who prepare and eat them, make up the long-standing dialect of North Carolina kitchens. But we have to wait for the right moment to enjoy them, and in that waiting is their treasure.

About the Author

Georgann Eubanks is a writer, Emmy-winning documentarian, and popular speaker. She is the author of Literary Trails of Eastern North Carolina, Literary Trails of the North Carolina Piedmont, and Literary Trails of the North Carolina Mountains.

For more information about Georgann Eubanks, visit the Author Page.


"This lovely ode to Tar Heel State heritage captures foods at their peaks--shad in March; ramps in April; persimmons in November--while introducing readers to the growers, hunters, foragers, and fishermen who harvest them."--Garden & Gun

"Eubanks interweaves her own narrative of life in the Tar Heel State and packs each chapter with information about the state of Southern foods."--The Local Palate

"If you are a fan of both history and Southern food, or curious about the way that seasonal foods create a culture, this book is a must."--Elizabeth Karmel, Associated Press

"[Eubanks] does her part to help preserve N.C. heritage foods."--Winston-Salem Journal

"The seasons keep the tempo in [this] collection of literary nonfiction essays about 12 North Carolina foods deeply entwined with the state's cultural histories. . . . Gorgeous botanical paintings by Carol Misner keep company with Eubanks' story vignettes from mountain ranges to shorelines."--Triad City Beat

"This is a book for a food lover, someone who has respect for the land and respect for local foods and the local people who raise them, or who collect snow for snow cream, or wait in the dark, wee hours for a crab to shed its shell."--Deirdre Smith, Salisbury Post