Editor's note: All summer long, the Southern Foodways Alliance will be delving deep in the history, tradition, heroes and plain old deliciousness of barbecue across the United States. Dig in.
Back in February 2011, when Charlotte, North Carolina, was selected to host this year's Democratic National Convention, First Lady Michelle Obama found herself on the hot seat when she praised the city for its charm, hospitality, and "of course, great barbecue." The declaration drew a chorus of jeers from Carolina barbecue fans, who are passionate about their smoked pork but not so hot on offerings in the Queen City.
This summer, CNN's Defining America project will be traveling the country with the CNN Express bus to explore the stories behind the data and demographics that show how places are changing.
Most of the time, ordering a burrito is just trying to get lunch.
But ordering one from a food truck in Charlotte could be a political act.
After a 2008 Charlotte ordinance tightened restrictions on mobile food vendors, several went out of business or left town. But with a changing population that has tasted food truck fare in other cities, the rules are again being debated - much to the chagrin of some neighborhoods here.
Some in Charlotte said the food truck debate is a test of the city's culture and whether this Southern boomtown can support grassroots street food like residents do in Austin, Texas; Portland, Oregon; or Washington.
Others said it's a fight over the character of neighborhoods, over whether food trucks are a service or a dangerous signal of a place that's failing to thrive.
Read - Can a food truck change a neighborhood?
This summer, CNN's Defining America project will be traveling the country with the CNN Express bus to explore the stories behind the data and demographics that show how places are changing. This week, CNN brings you coverage from North Carolina.
If you eat doughnuts in Greensboro, North Carolina, chances are you head to Krispy Kreme.
The king of the hot glazed doughnut was founded just 30 miles away, in Winston-Salem, in 1937. Since then it's gained a loyal following regionally, and more recently, nationally and internationally. The first Krispy Kreme in New York City opened in 1996, and the first non-U.S. store opened in Toronto in 2001.
So what on earth would possess someone to open a little, independent doughnut shop in the land of Krispy Kreme?
There was a time when every North Carolina family loved – or at least knew – liver mush. It's the cuisine of grandma's house, snow days and simpler times, a local delicacy some natives defend with the same loyalty they have to Carolina barbecue and Cheerwine.
Back then, it was the economical way to get some meat in your diet when times were tough, a high-iron addition to a kid's lunch, or a fried-till-crispy comfort breakfast beside fat slices of tomato and muskmelon.
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