You can take us with you. When you leave Charlotte, you might want to take these distinctively Carolinas products for cooking souvenirs -- or perhaps give some of them a try while youre here. Well skip barbecue sauces, because the Charlotte 2012 Host Committee already picked a pack of those.
1. Texas Pete. Not as molten as Tabasco, not as vinegary as Franks, its a particularly flavorful hot sauce. Its a native of Winston-Salem and its required on everything from collard greens to hot dogs.
2. Dukes mayonnaise. Concocted during World War I by Eugenia Duke of Greenville, S.C., its the mayonnaise of serious Southern food fans, particularly for things like pimento cheese.
3. Pimento cheese. What it is? Its one of the Souths great food inventions, a blend of grated sharp cheese, diced pimentos and mayonnaise. You can use it as a sandwich, a cracker spread, even a celery-stuffer. Its easy to make, but there are a number of Carolinas brands. Palmetto Cheese, Augustas Creations, Pennys, Ruths and Stans all have fervent fans.
4. Southern Biscuit brand flour. Southern flours are lower in protein so they produce less gluten. Thats what you need for tender biscuits, pie crusts and poundcakes. This brand is made by Midstate Mills in Newton and is one of the few state-made flours left.
5. Moravian cookies. A religious group that settled what became Winston-Salem, the Moravians brought distinctive baked goods. The cookies are rolled so thin, they deliver an incredible snap. Theyre usually sold in tubes by a couple of companies, including Salem Baking Co.
6. Lance Crackers. Everybody from factory workers to school kids used to get through the day with a pack of nabs, the Southern nickname for cheese crackers. Lance Crackers come in flavors from peanut butter to cheese. Want to see where theyre made? Take the Lynx line south and youll pass right by it.
7. Grits. Top grits with red-eye gravy, a little of your breakfast eggs, even shrimp. Stir cheese or butter into them. Just dont put sugar on them -- theyre not Cream of Wheat. If you want the best, skip instant and get true stone-ground grits, such as Anson Mills grits from South Carolina.
8. Mount Olive pickles. You might be able to find these in your supermarkets at home, but we wanted to point out: Theyre made in Mount Olive, N.C., a nice town about 200 miles east of Charlotte.
9. Cheerwine. Based in Salisbury, Cheerwine isnt a wine, its a cola/cherry soda. Combined with ginger ale and pineapple juice, it makes a great church punch.
10. Blenheim ginger ale. Made in Dillon, S.C., it is a terrific ginger ale, but our favorite is Old No. 5, the legendary hot ginger ale. It really is spicy enough to make your mouth a little numb, and its absolutely perfect mixed with bourbon.