This leafy green claims one of the longest growing seasons of any of North Carolina’s crops, and is oftentimes all that remains in home gardens and farms come January. On New Year’s Day, Southern dinner tables are filled with foods that symbolize luck and money: black-eyed peas, cornbread, ham, and collards, the last of which resemble dollar bills and are believed to invite prosperity. Just like the new year, collards return again and again to nourish and delight, bringing with them hope and a sense of state pride.
To make her collard greens kimchi, Chang combines collards with traditional Korean ingredients and lets the spicy mixture ferment for three to five days. photograph by Alex Boerner
Eunice Chang photograph by Alex Boerner
Collards With a Twist
For most who try it, collard greens kimchi is a tasty anomaly; for Eunice Chang, founder of The Spicy Hermit, it’s a natural way to merge the culinary traditions of her Korean heritage and her adopted home of North Carolina. Chang, grew up watching her halmoni — Korean for grandmother — make kimchi, a fermented preserve traditionally prepared with Napa cabbage and radishes. When Chang moved to North Carolina from New York 20 years ago, she learned that Napa cabbage has a short growing season here — so she improvised. Because collards grow longer and more plentifully in the South, they were a perfect substitute for cabbage. “It surprisingly worked out very well because the flavors of the collards came through — especially the smokiness — which is remarkable considering it is all live-fermented,” Chang says. “There’s no cooking or boiling — just salt, spices, and sometimes water, and a lot of time.”
You can find The Spicy Hermit’s collard greens kimchi and other kimchi variations at the Durham Farmers’ Market. To learn more, visit spicyhermit.com.
A Crop to Celebrate Ayden Collard Festival
Local marching bands, neighbors, and Colleen the Collard — a green mascot with leafy hair and a big smile — greet people gathered in downtown Ayden for the Collard Festival parade. The nearly 50-year-old event has grown to include live music, an art show, food vendors serving up classic collard dishes, and even a collard-eating contest — in 2022, the 20-year record was broken by a local who ate nine and a half pounds of collards in one sitting. The festival began in 1975, when a new Ayden resident wrote a letter to the editor of the local paper suggesting a festival
to celebrate the town, its people, and its heritage.
To commemorate our 90th anniversary, we’ve compiled a time line that highlights the stories, contributors, and themes that have shaped this magazine — and your view of the Old North State — using nine decades of our own words.