The third edition of Fodor's "North Carolina," featuring UNCP geographer Tom Ross' restaurant guide, is now available where travel guides are sold.
Like the army, Dr. Ross has always traveled on his stomach, even though he likes to consider eating at great restaurants to be "research."
"I have always had an interest in the cultural landscape and how people have adapted to their environment," Dr. Ross explains. "Food is an important part of that cultural landscape."
The latest edition of "North Carolina" (Fodor's Compass American Guides, 2002) finds a few changes. Restaurants highlighted by Dr. Ross are now listed with each region of the state, and there is an introduction to the cuisine of each region.
"I got listed on the title page this time," Dr. Ross said.
In his 31st year at UNCP, Dr. Ross still insists he has never met a food he does not like.
"I would say my tastes fall into the eclectic category," he said.
He has a special fondness for Eastern North Carolina-style barbecue with six barbecue restaurants listed in the Coastal Plains section.
"Hogs have been the most plentiful meat in the Carolinas since the 17th century, and North Carolina cooks have mastered the process of turning hog meat into a delicacy called 'barbecue,'" he writes on page 168.
His lively essay on barbecue can be found on page 95 along with a recipe for the famous vinegar-based sauce and hush puppies. "Barbecue is the ethnic food of most native North Carolinians: it has always been closely tied to the state's heritage," he writes. "Barbecue may not have originated in North Carolina, but don't try to tell that to a native North Carolinian."
A noted national expert on the mysterious Carolina bays, Dr. Ross has been busy in many areas lately, publishing "American Indians in North Carolina: Geographic Interpretations" (Karo Hollow Press, 1999) and contributing a chapter on agriculture and forestry to the "North Carolina Atlas" (UNC Press, 2000).