As the aim of Tasting Carolina is to show off the food culture in North Carolina, we are pleased to introduce you to the Taste Carolina food tour guides who are so passionate about their cities and restaurants. Today, we interview one of the Greensboro food tour guides, Jessica Stahl.
Starting with the basics: What do you do when you’re not leading food tours? Aside from leading tours, I am also a director of designer sales and vice president of operations and logistics for a furniture company in Greensboro. What is your hometown? Although I was born in Pennsylvania, I tell people that I’m from Maine because that’s where I spent my youth. When did you move to North Carolina? In 1992.
What do you love best about North Carolina? What don’t I love about North Carolina? It’s an easy question to answer. I love that we have the coast, and that we have the mountains. And that both are incredibly beautiful – and I love the in between. As for Greensboro in particular, it has everything that a big city has, but not all the people. It’s the best place to live, I love it.
What type of music do you listen to when you’re cooking in the kitchen? I would have to say my go-to thing in the kitchen isn’t music, but NPR. But if I’m listening to music, I love Rockabilly and modern folk music. The Avett Brothers are a favorite of mine.
What are the 5 foods you can’t live without? 1) I love fresh mozzarella – especially paired with roasted red peppers. 2) Homemade Macaroni and Cheese. 3) Oysters. 4) Fresh French bread. 5) I love hamburgers – I’m very fancy like that. But please note these are good burgers, not just the average dollar menu burgers.
What is your comfort food? My mom’s potato salad, which I can happily say I had earlier this week.
Are there any foods you won’t eat/try? Not that I won’t try. I’ll try anything. But there are foods that I don’t eat after trying them once. Sweetbreads creep me out. I would eat it if it was served to me, but I would never order it on my own.
What is the (last memorable) meal you’ve eaten recently? It wasn’t a meal exactly. My husband and I went to the International Festival a few weeks ago here in Greensboro. Well, I guess you call it a meal. There were so many great vendors. I had Japanese dumplings that were amazing. Vietnamese noodles. Oh, and I had this incredible Caribbean drink that was made with ginger and pineapple….
The ingredient you currently can’t stop using is: Cilantro. I want it in everything. I don’t care if it’s appropriate or not.
You have a day with absolutely no obligations. How do you spend it? I should say that I would hang out with my son and husband all day…. But really I would go for a long run and take a long shower, because a shower would be needed. After that, I would probably embroider all day. That and watch court television – Judge Judy and Cops. If my son, Jack, and husband, Sean, happened to be there for all that, fantastic. All the better.
What are some cooking challenges or techniques you would like to tackle? I want to make really excellent bread, and I’m afraid of it. For some reason it scares me.
Who is one person you’d love to cook with? I would love to cook with my grandmother, who has passed away. She was Swedish, and she knew a lot of Swedish dishes. I feel like when she passed away a lot of those things went with her. Especially her Swedish meatballs.