Boating, Fishing, Paddling, Maps, History, New places to go & things
 to do. It's

...All about
the Roanoke

See Roanoke-related articles in these magazines:
Wildlife in North Carolina-
March 2003
Cypress Grill:
The Last Cook-up Shack

by T. Edward Nickens

Backpacker Magazine
The Nature Conservancy Magazine

Smithsonian Magazine

National Geographic Adventure Magazine

 

 


Finally... The New Year Can Begin
It's even worth a wait in line for those crispy, brown treats!

Along the Roanoke the New Year really starts for many of us on opening day of the Cypress Grill. It's the distinctive taste of a well-fried fresh herring that cues us to the change rather than a steaming bowl of blackeyed peas. Oh, we had our peas and ham hocks on January 1st, like the rest of you, but it's just a warm up for the real beginning of the new year, the one signaled by the arrival of those bony swimmers from oceans far away.

Traveling from the northern Atlantic back to their spawning waters in the swamps along the Roanoke seems a long, cold and dangerous venture for such small creatures. Traditionally, the local fisherman who caught the first of this oncoming wave was recognized as possessing "the key to the smoke house" and was looked on with admiration by his fellow fishermen. Smoked herring (along with those winter-proof collards) were known to sustain many eastern North Carolinians through tough times and still hold a special place in the hearts (and stomachs) of many. 

Times have changed and the "key to the smokehouse" is likely to get you a big fine from the authorities rather than admiration from your buddies. Herrings are trailing gold in value and towns like Jamesville who have celebrated the importance of the fish with annual spring festivals now have to beg those same authorities to let us have just a few from local waters to keep our heritage alive. Just makes 'em taste even better!

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