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Welcome to WFAEats — a fun adventure where we explore all things tasty and interesting in the Charlotte food scene. We want to share stories, recipes and culinary escapades and hear about yours!

Pat Conroy: A Memory

Conroy_recipe.JPG
Amy Rogers

People were in line before the bookstore opened. Hundreds more were arriving to stand on the pavement for hours and wait their turn to enter the cozy shop jammed with easily 100 more. Pat Conroy talked and laughed and reminisced with just about everyone who came to get a book signed.

When you work in a bookstore, you live for days like these. Afterward, as the store was closing, a few of us stood on the sidewalk saying good night. A friend nudged me to tell Pat about the project I was working on.

“I'm collecting recipes and stories from around the Carolinas and compiling them into a book.”

“I will BUY your book!” he replied instantly. Not “Good idea” or “Sounds interesting.” And with his remark, he expressed the certainty that I would not only finish the book, but it would be worth paying to read.

As it turned out, he went one better. Pat and his wonderful wife, the writer Cassandra King Conroy, shared a recipe for me to include in the book that would become “Hungry for Home: Stories of Food from Across the Carolinas.”

That was the generosity and boundless brio of Pat Conroy. He once explained in an interview that if he could figure out how to tell the story of the South – what was “glorious and hideous” – he could tell the story of the whole human race. And no one did it better.

Still, of the millions of gorgeous, meaningful, and memorable words he wrote, none will ever mean more to me than the five he spoke that night, in front of my hometown bookstore.

Rest in peace, Pat.

“Mediterranean Muesli”

From Cassandra King Conroy and Pat Conroy

“Pat and I discovered this fabulous dish in Cairo and have been breakfasting on it ever since. Here’s what’s great about it: It’s delicious, nutritious and really versatile, especially in summer when there are so many fruits and berries available. This is the consistency I like – in Egypt it was really soupy; in other places on the Mediterranean, thicker.”

1 cup plain yogurt

1 cup low-fat milk

1 cup raw oatmeal

1/4 cup oat bran or wheat germ

1/4 honey, or more to taste

1/2 cup dates, dried apricots and figs, chopped

1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

Mix together all the ingredients and store in the refrigerator. Serve as is or topped with fresh fruit, finely chopped melon, or berries.

Makes 2 servings

“Mediterranean Muesli” originally appeared in Hungry for Home: Stories of Food from Across the Carolinas © by Amy Rogers and published by Novello Festival Press.