There are some things about North Carolina almost everyone knows, such as tobacco, basketball, and NASCAR. Then there are things that you only learn if you live here for a while; e.g. coleslaw is a condiment.
That’s right, any self-respecting North Carolinian restaurant serves a tiny cup of coleslaw on the side with every sandwich (and many other orders) so that you can put it on your sandwich if you care to. It actually works quite well because the cole slaw here is the best I’ve ever had: unlike its Midwestern brethren it contains only a bit of mayonnaise, and unlike the local barbecue it’s light on the vinegar.
Coleslaw features prominently in Carolina-style burgers, which also have chili, chopped onion, and mustard. Even Wendy’s has a fast-food version that is sold regionally. Apparently there is some sort of difference between coleslaw and “slaw,” but either way I find them to be delicious.
Another, more interesting North Carolina “quirk” has to do with how I’ve used quotation marks in these last two sentences. As best I understand it, in North Carolina quotation marks are not only used to indicate direct quotations (two sentences ago) or euphemisms (last sentence) but seem to be some sort of emphasis. In other words, “The best barbecue in North Carolina” becomes:
- The “best” barbecue in North Carolina
- The best “barbecue” in North Carolina
- The best barbecue in “North Carolina”
I’ve seen this use of quotations marks in all sorts of professionally-done signage and advertising literature down here, with particularly comical effect when used by lawyers (I can prove you’re “innocent”).
Apparently this is a common enough occurrence nation-wide that we now have the latest addition to the blogroll: The “Blog” of “Unnecessary” Quotation Marks. It is hysterical. Most of the examples are hand-lettered signs, which tells me I need to start submitting pictures of the professional ones we have here. It looks like everyone may have known about this blog but me since it was described in an Associated Press article — but I was “busy” getting “married” that weekend.