February feasting is fun but fattening


Patsy Pridgen


By Patsy Pridgen
Telegram Columnist

Sunday, February 25, 2018

When it’s a dreary winter weekend and you nevertheless go to the beach for a change of scenery, what do you find yourself doing? Eating! Especially if you’ve been forgoing many of your favorite fried foods in an effort to shed those leftover holiday pounds.

At least that was the case for me. It turned out the main attraction on my recent February trip to a foggy, drizzling Crystal Coast was food. The Friday night trip included a mid-journey stop at my favorite eatery in Kinston, King’s Restaurant. My husband and I are positively addicted to the Friday night fried trout special there. Three large pieces of fish, two sides (Brunswick stew and slaw for both of us this particular week), and hushpuppies for $7.99 each, tea included.

February being an “R” month, Saturday night found us at T&W Oyster Bar close to Cape Carteret. We ordered a half-peck of medium steamed oysters to share, along with an individual baked potato and side of slaw. Even though I’d just had hushpuppies the night before at King’s, I helped my husband devour the basketful put in front of us. Of course, we both wanted the optional condiments that went with the oysters. I dipped each shucked oyster in melted butter, then immersed it in cocktail sauce, and finally placed it on a Saltine cracker. One cracker per oyster, so I had a pile of cracker wrappers by the time I finished.

My New Year’s resolution to eat sensibly was a distant memory by Sunday. For lunch, my husband and I visited another of our favorite restaurants, the humble Bogue House near Swansboro. It was tough choosing between the shrimp burger and the fried chicken, but having been on a seafood diet pretty much all weekend, the latter won out.

My Styrofoam plate was crowded with a fried chicken breast and wing, a side of macaroni and cheese, and a serving of collards. Four more hushpuppies lay atop the pile of food. My husband’s selections, which had been identical to mine all weekend, differed only in the vegetable department. He chose green beans glistening with whatever type of grease they were simmered in. Despite being my third serving of hushpuppies in as many days, I have to declare the Bogue House recipe my favorite. There was a hint of onion in the batter, setting these apart from those I’d had at King’s and T&W’s. Not that I left any hushpuppies on my plate or in the basket anywhere I ate.

Monday morning, I came back to earth. Home again, I cringed as I got on the scales. Hoping the two-mile daily walking I did on the beach would negate what I’d eaten, I was sadly disappointed. The three pounds I’d worked so hard to lose were back.

Still – fried fish, fried chicken, fried hushpuppies, oysters in butter and cocktail sauce, seasoned collards, macaroni and cheese, butter and sour cream on a baked potato – it was a wonderful weekend of Eastern North Carolina food. I look forward to eating it all again.