The day I arrived in Durham, North Carolina, mainly to visit my great friends David and Frances, we immediately headed to the Beaver Queen Pageant, which is a fundraiser to benefit a particular watershed where there are many beavers. The proper description for it would be an environmentally conscious drag queen show (it was pretty eclectic). The Beaver Queen Pageant was a strangely fun way to soak up some of the local culture.
One of the things that made a serious impression on me in Durham was the environmental consciousness that pervaded the local media and business ethos. You would see things about being “green” and “buying local” all over the place. Perhaps related to the “buy local” movement that seems strong in North Carolina, Durham has a lot of really delicious and interesting restaurants in its downtown area.
We visited Scratch bakery which has the Sonya-approved URL www.piefantasy.com. They hit the top 10 list for America’s best pie spots rated by Food and Wine magazine. I had shirred eggs and coffee, which were both very good. Even the toast was delicious, and it was just toast! And then we of course had to buy a little strawberry-rhubarb pie to eat later. Our only complaint: we should have bought two pies because we most definitely wanted more pie. The flavor was not too sweet, with a perfect little crust. I do not think Scratch is over-hyped at all: I only wished I had time to eat more items from their menu. We ended up making our own pie the next day because Scratch whetted our pie-appetite.
The main reason that my friends live in Durham is because it is the location of Duke University. The campus is very lovely with red brick buildings and wide green lawns. Duke was named by James Duke, a North Carolina man of money, after his father Washington Duke. James Duke was in the tobacco industry, eventually consolidating his companies into the American Tobacco Company, which had a monopoly on the American market. Nowadays the American Tobacco properties have been revitalized into office spaces and restaurants. The old signs of industry give the location a nice vintage feel. Overall, I really enjoyed Durham’s vibe and aesthetic.