Patience, passion and pork: Big Nick’s Barbecue carries on family tradition

Coming off Exit 85 on the Great Smoky Mountains Expressway, a funny thing happens to drivers when they’re about halfway down the hill heading into Sylva — they start to get hungry. 

Cooking on The Mountain

The drive to The Mountain Retreat & Learning Center in Highlands sets the stage for its seclusion from the outside world.

Tourists crowd the winding two lanes that thread through the red, yellow and orange hues of fall. All of this makes the trip slow going, giving a person ample time to take in the beauty of the season.

Mountains to sea: Wicked Fresh Seafood & Meat Market

When Richard Gray was 9 years old, he would get up at 3:30 a.m. and ride his bicycle down to the docks on the coast of Maine to help the lobstermen of his hometown of Gouldsboro. 

Places to eat

Andrews

• Burger Basket — American – 828.321.3785

• Granieri’s Italian Restaurant — Italian/American – 828.321.5555

• Happy Hawg BBQ — Southern/American – 828.321.2900

• Hoppy Trout Brewing Company — American – 828.835.2111

• Kobe Grill — Asian – 828.321.1010

• Monte Alban — Mexican – 828.321.1802

• Ronnie’s — American/Southern – 828.644.8271

• Santo Nino — Mexican – 828.321.2109

 

Bryson City

• 1101 Main Steak House — American/Southern – 828.488.5333

• Anthony’s — Italian/American – 828.488.8898

• Bar-B-Que Wagon — Southern/American – 828.488.9521

• Big Wesser — American/Southern – 828.905.7238

• The Bistro at the Everett Hotel  — Southern/Gourmet – 828.488.1934

• Box Car Café & Cones — American – 828.488.5379

• CJ’s Grille — American/Southern – 828.488.9880

• Derailed Bar & Lounge — American – 828.488.8898

• Everett Street Diner — American/Café – 828.488.0123

• Filling Station Deli — American/Southern – 828.488.1919

• Fryemont Inn — Southern/Seafood – 800.845.4879

• Great Smoky Mountains Winery — American/Southern – 828.788.1346

• Guayabitos — Mexican – 828.488.1336

• Hemlock Inn — Southern/Gourmet – 828.488.2885

• High Test Deli — American/Southern – 828.488.1919

• Iron Wok — Asian – 828.488.9553

• Iron Skillet — American/Café – 828.488.4766

• Jimmy Mac’s — American/Southern – 828.488.4700

• La Poblana — Mexican – 828.488.1701

• La Taqueria  — Mexican – 828.488.9162

• Mountain Perks Espresso Bar & Café — American/Café – 828.488.9561

• Naber’s Drive-In — American/Southern – 828.488.2877

• Nantahala Brewing (Brewpub) — Southern/Gourmet – 828.585.5885

• Nate & Nick’s Pizza — American/Southern – 828.588.0500

• Pasqualino’s  — Italian – 828.488.9555

• Pizza By The River — American/Southern – 828.342.9101

• River’s End Restaurant — American/Southern – 828.488.7172

• Snak Shak — American/Southern – 828.341.1999

• Village Bistro — Southern/American – 828.488.9000

• Water’s Edge — Seafood/Southern – 828.488.7977

 

Canton 

• Black Bear Café  — American/Café – 828.648.1003

• Canelos — Mexican – 828.648.0303

• China King Buffet  — Chinese/Asian – 828.235.8815

• DiMaggio’s Pizza & Pasta — American/Italian – 828.492.0641

• El Chapala — Mexican – 828.235.9193 —  — Canton (continued)

• El Pobre — Mexican – 828.235.9311

• J-RO’s  — American – 828.492.0015

• Jukebox Junction — American/Café – 828.648.4546 

• Kobe Express — Asian – 828.492.1255

• Kountry Kitchen — American/Café – 828.492.8072

• Pigeon River Grille — American/Café – 828.492.1422

• Sagebrush — Steakhouse – 828.646.3750

• Southern Porch Kitchen & Drink — Southern/Farm-to-Table – 828.492.8006

• Three Compas — Mexican – 828.235.9193

 

Cashiers

• Buck’s Coffee Café  — American/Café – 828.743.9997

• Carolina Smokehouse — Southern Barbecue – 828.743.3200

• Chez Dupont & The Stone Soup Café — Southern/Farm-to-Table – 828.743.1960

• Chile Loco — Mexican – 828.743.1160

• Cornucopia Restaurant — Southern/American – 828.743.3750

• El Manzanillo — Mexican – 828.743.5522

• High Hampton Inn & Country Club — Steak/Seafood/Southern – 828.743.2411

• The Orchard  — Southern/American – 828.743.7614

• Randevu — Southern – 828.743.0190

• Slab Town Pizza — American – 828.743.0020

• The Ugly Dog Pub — American/Southern – 828.743.3000

• Trillium Clubhouse — American/Southern – 828.743.4157

• Whiteside Brewing  — American/Southern – 828.743.6000

• Winslow’s Hideaway  — Steak/Seafood – 828.743.2226

• Zookeeper Café — American/Café – 828.743.7711

 

Cherokee

• BJ’s Diner — American/Southern – 828.497.4303

• Brio Tuscan Grille (Harrah’s) — Italian – 828.497.7777

• Chestnut Tree  — American/Café – 828.497.9181

• Front Porch Cakery & Deli — American/Southern – 828.497.1776

• Frontier Pancake House  — American/Café – 828.497.4718

• Granny’s Kitchen — Southern/American – 828.497.5010

• Lee Garden — Chinese – 828.497.4388

• Little Princess  — Southern/American – 828.497.9000

• Kobe Express — Asian – 828.497.9779

• New Happy Garden — Chinese – 828.497.4310

• Newfound Lodge — American/Café – 828.497.4590 

• Noodle Bar (Harrah’s) — Asian – 828.497.7777

• Paul’s Diner  — American/Southern – 828.497.9012

• Peter’s Pancakes & Waffles  — American/Café – 828.497.5116

• Rancho Viejo — Mexican – 828.497.0343

• Ruth’s Chris Streak House (Harrah’s) — Steak/Seafood – 828.497.7777

• Sassy Sunflowers Bakery & Café — American/Southern – 828.497.2539

• Selu Garden Café (Harrah’s) — American/Southern – 828.497.7777

• Wize Guyz Grille — American – 828.497.2838

 

Clyde

• 7 Asian Kitchen — Asian – 828.476.5121

• Blue Rooster Southern Grill — Southern/American – 828.456.1997

• Coffee Cup Café — American/Café – 828.627.8905

• Da Asian Kitchen — Asian/Sushi – 828.476.5121

• Ferrara Pizza & Pasta — Italian/American – 828.476.5058

• Sherrill’s Pioneer — American/Café – 828.627.9880 — Cullowhee

• 9 Lives — American/Southern 

• Sazon — Mexican – 828.293.9443

 

Dillsboro 

• Boots Steakhouse – 828.631.9713

• Country Traditions — American/Southern – 828.586.1600

• Foragers Canteen — Farm-to-Table/Southern – 828.631.4114

• Haywood Smokehouse — Barbecue/Southern – 828.586.9556

• Jarrett House — Southern – 828.586.0265

• Kostas  — Greek/Italian – 828.631.0777

• Well HouseAmerican/Southern – 828.586.8588

 

Franklin

• The Boiler Room — Steak/Southern – 828.349.5555

• Boone Thai  — Thai – 828.524.1111

• The Bowery — Southern – 828.369.3663

• Caff’e Rel  — French – 828.369.9446

• Chris & Charlie’s — Italian/American – 828.349.0900

• City Restaurant — American – 828.524.4948

• Cody’s Kitchen — American/Southern – 828.524.9048

• El Charro — Mexican – 828.369.9002

• Elevations Pizza & Eats — American/Southern – 828.369.1359

• Fortune House — Asian – 828.349.3888

• Franklin Café — American/Southern – 828.634.4995

• Frogtown Market — American/Southern – 828.369.0001

• Gazebo Creekside Café — American/Southern – 828.524.8783

• Gondolas — American/Southern 

• Hungry Bear — American/Café – 828.369.2900

• Jaxon’s Downtown — American/Southern – 828.369.1302

• Kobe Express — Asian – 828.524.5623

• Kountry Kitchen — American – 828.524.6209

• Las Barricas — Mexican – 828.349.4484

• Los Tamalitos — Mexican – 828.369.6288

• Lucio’s  — Italian – 828.369.6670

• Martha’s Kitchen — American/Southern – 828.524.4600

• Mi Casa — Mexican – 828.369.1580

• Motor Company Grill — American/Southern – 828.524.0099

• Ms Lois’ American/Café – 828.369.8628

• Mulligan’s Bar & Grill — American/Southern – 828.349.3183

• Normandie — American/Café – 828.524.3118

• Papa’s Pizza of Franklin — American – 828.369.9999

• The Post & Beam at Mill Creek — Southern/American – 828.349.0402

• Rathskeller Coffee Haus — American/Café – 828.369.6796

• Rico’s Tacos — Mexican – 828.200.3960

• Rizzo’s Bakery & Bistro — American/Southern – 828.369.7774

• Rock House Lodge — American/Southern – 828.349.7676

• Rockin’ Rollie Pollies — American/Southern – 828.369.2690

• Root + Barrel — American/Gourmet – 828.369.3663

• Sakura  — Japanese – 828.349.8917

• Stamey’s Café — American/Café – 828.524.8198 

• Sunset — American/Café – 828.524.4842 

• Thai Paradise — Thai – 828.349.0973

• Tienda Mexicana La Guadalupana — Mexican – 828.349.0108

• Town Hill Grill — American/Southern – 828.369.6799

• Vito’s Pizza — Italian/American – 828.369.9890

• Willy’s Ribs & BBQ — Southern/American – 828.524.0414

• Yonder — American/Southern – 828.369.6007

 

Hayesville

• Alazan — Mexican – 828.389.2727

• Anejo Grille — Mexican – 828.389.6061

• Angelo’s Downtown Pizza — Italian/American – 828.389.2500

• Black Dog Tavern Grill & Spirits — American/Southern – 828.415.1700

• Carlotta’s — American/Southern – 828.415.0909

• Chevelle’s 69 — American – 828.389.6069

• The Copper Door — Steak/Seafood/Southern – 828.237.4030

• Giovanni’s Pizzeria — Italian/American – 828.415.1615

• Hayesville Brewing — American/Southern – 828.835.6010

• Mariolino’s Italian Cuisine — Italian/American – 828.415.1572

• Mika’s Pizza — American – 828.389.6366

• Nocturnal Brewing — American/Southern – 828.305.7337

• Rib Country BBQ — Barbecue/Southern – 828.389.9597

• Roma’s Pizzeria — Italian/American – 828.389.6366

• Sequoyah Bar & Grille — American/Southern – 828.389.9000

• Tusquittee Tavern  — American/Southern 

• Valley River Brewery  — American/Southern – 828.389.1472

 

Highlands

• 4118 Kitchen + Bar — American/Southern – 828.526.5002

• Asia House — Asian – 828.787.1680

• Azteca Rainforest Bar & Grill — Mexican/American – 828.526.2244

• Bistro On Main — American – 828.526.2590

• Brick Oven Pizza — American – 828.526.4121

• Buck’s Coffee Café  — American/Café – 828.526.0020

• Cyprus — International – 828.526.4429

• El Azteca — South Pacific/Mexican – 828.526.2244

• El Manzanillo  — Mexican – 828.526.0608

• Fresser’s Express — American/Southern – 828.526.4188

• Highlands Smokehouse — Southern Barbecue – 828.526.1900

• Kelsey Place — American/Southern – 828.526.9380

• Lakeside — Seafood/Southern – 828.526.9419

• The Log Cabin  — American/Southern – 828.526.5777

• Madison’s Restaurant & Wine Garden — Southern/Farm-to-Table – 828.526.5477

• Main Street Inn Bistro — American – 828.526.2590

• Meritage Bistro — American – 828.526.1019

• Mountain Fresh Pizza — Italian/American – 828.526.2400 

• On the Verandah  — Gourmet Fusion – 828.526.2338 — • Paoletti’s — Italian/American – 828.526.4906

• Pescados — Mexican – 828.526.9313

• Pizza Place  — American – 828.526.5660

• Ristorante Paoletti — Northern Italian – 828.526.4906

• Ruka’s Table — Southern/Contemporary – 828.526.3636

• Rustico at the Log Cabin — Northern Italian – 828.526.0999

• Sky Pie Pizza  — Italian/American – 828.526.5188

• The Ugly Dog Pub — American/Southern – 828.526.8364

• Wild Thyme Gourmet — Southern – 828.526.4035

• Wolfgang’s Restaurant & Wine Bistro — New Orleans/Steak/Seafood – 828.526.3807

 

Lake Toxaway

• The Blind Mule — American/Southern – 828.553.8978

• Brown Trout Mountain Grille — American/Southern – 828.877.3474

• Country Cupboard — American/Southern – 828.883.5533 —  — Lake Toxaway (continued)

• The Falls Café & Grill — American/Southern – 828.877.3322

• The Grill — American – 828.883.5551

 

Maggie Valley 

• Andolini’s  — Italian/American – 828.944.0770

• Apple Andy’s  — American/Southern – 828.944.0626

• Brew Cue & BBQ — Southern/American – 828.944.0259

• Brickhouse Burgers & Pizza — American/Southern – 828.944.0909

• Butts On The Creek — Barbecue/Southern – 828.926.7885

• Cataloochee Guest Ranch — Southern/American – 800.868.1401 

• Country Vittles — American/Southern – 828.926.1820

• Frankie’s Italian Trattoria — Italian – 828.926.6216

• The Garrett House  — Southern/American – 828.944.1004

• Guayabitos — Mexican – 828.926.7777

• Holiday Diner — American/Café – 828.926.0820

• Iconic Sandwiches — American/Southern – 828.944.0606

• J. Arthur’s  — Steakhouse/American – 828.926.1817

• Joey’s Pancake House — American/Café – 828.926.0212

• Legends Sports Grill — American/Southern – 828.926.9464

• Maggie Valley Club — American/Southern – 828.926.1616

• Maggie Valley Pizzeria — Italian/American – 828.926.2325

• Maggie Valley Restaurant — American/Café – 828.926.0425 

• Maggie Valley Sandwich Shop — American/Southern – 828.944.0620

• Moonshine Grille — Southern/American – 828.926.7440

• Mountaineer — American/Café – 828.926.1730

• Pin High Bar & Grille — American/Southern – 828.926.4848

• Pop’s Grits & Eggs — American/Southern – 828.944.0677

• Rendezvous — American/Southern – 828.926.2325

• Salty Dog’s — Seafood/American – 828.926.9105

• Snappy’s — Italian/American – 828.926.6126

• The Swag — Farm-to-Table/Southern – 828.926.0430

• Taqueria Guanajuato — Mexican – 828.926.3483

• Willie Brooks BBQ — Barbecue/American – 828.944.1227

 

Murphy

• Bistro 29 — American/Southern – 828.837.9022

• Blue Mountain Coffee & Grill — American/Café – 828.837.1362

• Brother’s — American/Southern – 828.835.9100

• Chevelle’s — American – 828.835.7001

• Chowder House — American/Southern – 828.837.9697

• Daily Grind & Wine — American/Coffeehouse – 828.835.7322

• Downtown Bakery  — American – 828.835.8986

• Downtown Pizza Company — American – 828.837.0500

• Doyle’s Cedar Hill — American – 828.837.3400

• El Manzanillo — Mexican – 828.837.9624

• Herb’s Pit Bar-B-Que — Southern/American – 828.494.5367

• The Landing Café — American/Southern – 828.422.5309

• Main Street — American/Southern – 828.837.7648

• Mama Mia’s — Italian – 828.557.5401

• Monte Alban — Mexican – 828.835.9767

• Murphy’s Chophouse — Southern/Steak/Gourmet – 828.835.3287

• No Name Deli — American/Italian – 828.837.9138

• Parson’s Pub  — American/Southern – 828.837.4151

• Red Brick Deli — American/Southern – 828.837.9090

• Rib Country BBQ — Barbecue/Southern – 828.837.4444

• Sal’s Brooklyn Pizza  — Italian/American – 828.835.0822

• ShoeBooties Café  — Southern/American – 828.837.4589

• Valley River Brewery — American/Southern – 828.837.2337

 

Robbinsville

• Carolina Kitchen — Southern/American – 828.479.1500

• Dragon’s Den Grill — American/Southern – 828.498.2231

• El Pacifico  — Mexican – 828.479.8448

• Hub Of WNC — Barbecue/Southern – 828.479.0478

• Lynn’s Place — American/Southern – 828.479.9777

• Moonshiner’s Steakhouse — Steakhouse – 828.479.0708

• Pacefeco — Mexican – 828.479.8448

• Pop & Nana’s Kicthen & The Scoop — American/Southern – 828.479.8461

• Roger’s Smoky Mountain Restaurant — American/Southern – 828.479.4770

• Southern Gals Country Cooking — Southern/American – 828.479.9405

• Stecoah Diner — American/Café – 828.479.8430

• T. Dubbs — American/Southern – 828.479.2161

• Wildwood Grill — American/Southern – 828.498.2141

 

Sapphire

• Canyon Kitchen at Lonesome Valley — Southern/Farm-to-Table – 828.743.7697

• Cork & Barrel Lounge — American/Southern – 828.743.7477

• Four Season Grill — American/Southern – 828.743.4284

• Gamekeeper’s Tavern — American – 828.743.4263

• The Library Kitchen & Bar — Artisan/Gourmet – 828-743.5512

• Mica’s — American – 828.743.5740

• Osteria Del Monte — Italian – 828.883.2551

• Sapphire Mountain Brewing  — American – 828.743.0220

• Table 64 — American/Southern – 828.743.4135

 

Sylva

• B & Al’s Grill — American – 828.586.5686

• Balsam Mountain Inn — Southern/Farm-to-Table – 828.456.9498

• Big Nick’s BBQ — Southern/American – 828.631.3891

• Bogart’s  — Steakhouse – 828.586.6532

• City Lights Café — American/Southern – 828.587.2233

• The Coffee Shop  — American/Café – 828.586.2013

• Colima — Mexican – 828.586.9999

• Cosmic Carryout at Innovation Brewing — American/Farm-to-Table – 828.586.9678

• Creekside Oyster House & Grill — Seafood/Southern – 828.586.1985

• Cut Cocktail Lounge — Gastropub – 828.631.4795

• El Patron — Mexican – 828.586.8805

• Ferrara Pizza & Pasta — Italian/American – 828.477.4931

• Guadalupe Café — Caribbean Fusion – 828.586.9877

• Half Past — American/Southern – 828.586.1212

• Jade Dragon — Chinese – 828.586.6688

• Lulu’s On Main — Southern/Farm-to-Table – 828.586.8989

• Mad Batter Food & Film — American/Southern – 828.586.3555

• Melissa’s Backstreet Takeout — Asian – 828.586.9131

• Mesquite Grill — Mexican – 828.586.3000

• Nantahala Brewing (Outpost) — American/Southern 

• O’Malley’s Sports Bar & Grill — American/Southern – 828.631.0554

• Peking Gourmet II — Chinese – 828.586.9082

• Pie Times Pizza Company — Italian/American – 828.608.0309

• Robbie’s Char-Burger — American – 828.586.2723

• Soul Infusion Tea House & Bistro — Southern Fusion/American – 828.586.1717

• South of Philly — American – 828.586.0550

• Southeast Asian Restaurant — Asian – 828.631.9773

• Speedy’s Pizza — American – 828.586.3800

 

Waynesville

• Ammon’s Drive-In & Dairy Bar — American/Southern – 828.926.0734

• Angelo’s Family Pizza — American/Southern – 828.452.1886

• Balsam Café — American/Southern – 828.456.2299

• Birchwood Hall Southern Kitchen — Southern/Farm-to-Table – 828.246.6111

• Bocelli’s Italian Eatery — Italian – 828.456.4900

• Bogart’s  — Steakhouse – 828.452.1313

• Boojum Brewing — American/Southern – 828.944.0888

• Bosu’s Wine Shop — Farm-to-Table – 828.452.0120

• Bourbon Barrel Beef & Ale — Southern/American – 828.452.9191

• Buttered Biscuit  — American/Café – 828.246.6446

• Captain’s Bay — Seafood/Steakhouse – 828.456.6761

• The Chef’s Table — Italian/Farm-to-Table – 828.452.6210

• Church Street Depot — American – 828.246.6505

• The Classic Wineseller — Italian/French/Southern – 828.452.6000

• Clyde’s Restaurant — American/Southern – 828.456.9135

• Cork & Cleaver at The Waynesville Inn — Steak/Seafood – 828.456.3551

• El Pobre — Mexican – 828.456.9557

• Ellie’s Deli & Coffee House — American/Café – 828.456.4949

• Firefly Taps & Grill — American/Southern – 828.454.5400

• Frog’s Leap Public House — Farm-to-Table/Southern – 828.456.1930

• Gigi’s Restaurant — American/Southern – 828.926.6020

• Harmons’ Den Bistro at HART Theatre — Farm-to-Table/Southern – 828.456.6322

• Haywood 209 Café  — American/Café – 828.627.3331

• Haywood Smokehouse — Barbecue/Southern – 828.456.7275

• Hazelwood Farmacy & Soda Fountain — American/Southern – 828.246.6996

• Ian & Jojo’s Pizzeria & Restaurant — Italian/American – 828.246.6626

• J Creek Café — American/Café – 828.926.7877

• Kanini’s — Southern/Farm-to-Table – 828.452.5187

• Kornerstone Kafé  — American/Café – 828.550.2265

• Las Palmas  — Mexican – 828.456.4234

• Los Amigos — Mexican – 828.456.7870

• Mad Anthony’s Taproom & Restaurant — American/Southern – 828.246.9249

• Maggie’s Galley  — Seafood – 828.456.8945

• New Happy Garden — Asian – 828.456.6988

• Panacea Coffee House Café & Roastery  — American/Café – 828.452.6200 

• Patio Bistro — Southern/American – 828.454.0070 

• Pub 319 — American/Southern – 828.456.3040

• Sagebrush — Steakhouse – 828.452.5822

• Sauced  — American/Mexican – 828.246.9585

• Secret Wine Company  — Farm-to-Table – 828.452.0120

• Smoky Mountain Sub Shop — American – 828.456.3400 

• The Sweet Onion — Southern/Farm-to-Table – 828.456.5559 

• Tap Room Bar & Grill — American/Southern – 828.456.3551

• Water’n Hole Bar & Grill — American/Southern – 828.456.4750

• Waynesville Pizza Company — American/Italian – 828.246.0927

Combining the culinary arts: Mad Anthony’s pairs craft beer, fine dining

Just off Main Street in Waynesville, tucked down the hill below Bogart’s, and across the street from American Legion Post 47, sits Mad Anthony’s Taproom & Restaurant.

Originally opened on Branner Avenue some three years ago, the business relocated to Legion Drive in July 2017. With 50 continuously rotating taps, it’s the largest selection of draft craft beer west of Asheville (aka: “Beer City USA”). But, in recent months, the taproom has transitioned into one of the most talked about gourmet farm-to-table restaurants in the area. 

Cookbooks make nice holiday gifts

So there I was on a Wednesday afternoon in October in one of my favorite spots in town: the public library. I’m running my eyes along the “New Books: Nonfiction” shelves when the cookbooks grab my attention.

Now, I myself own several cookbooks: a Betty Crocker that has seen much better days and opens automatically to the recipe for quiche; The Pat Conroy Cookbook, probably my favorite, not because of the recipes, but because of Conroy’s zest for food and anecdotes about his life; A Man, A Plan, A Can, which I recommend to anyone who doesn’t know a spatula from a ladle; a much-stained Moosewood Cookbook; and several others. I enjoy cooking on occasion, as long as the recipes are simple and forgiving, meaning that if I put too much sauce in the lasagna or not enough spices in the chicken soup, the food will still be edible.

Honoring the past, welcoming the future

High atop a mountain overlooking Haywood County, Annie Haslam Colquitt sits across a dining room table at The Swag. A rainstorm has just swept through, with a cold breeze floating through the open front door. She gazes around, her eyes slowly drifting out the windows onto the deep woods of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park bordering the property. 

On your plate, on the plateau: Chef Ken Naron of Canyon Kitchen

Though the culinary and agricultural history of Southern Appalachia is as vast and robust as the tall and rigorous mountains that make up this region, the intense worldwide focus and adoration for the ingredients, recipes and folks who stir it all together is more of a 21st century phenomenon. 

Ten acres of goodness

Ten Acre Garden in Canton has created an experience for visitors. They can come pick their own seasonal berries — blackberries, blueberries, strawberries — or pick their herbs or flowers from Garth Kuver’s Genesis Gardens on the property.

On your plate, on the plateau: Chef Ken Naron of Canyon Kitchen

Though the culinary and agricultural history of Southern Appalachia is as vast and robust as the tall and rigorous mountains that make up this region, the intense worldwide focus and adoration for the ingredients, recipes and folks who stir it all together is more of a 21st century phenomenon. 

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