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Ode to Chicken Salad in the Carolinas

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Photos by Anna Naphtali
Photo by Anna Naphtali

I am a big fan of the mayonnaise-based salad. I love egg salad, ham salad, and of course tuna salad. However, atop my mayonnaise-salad altar, it has to be chicken salad.

I haven’t met a chicken salad I didn’t like. I’ve had them peppered with grape halves, flavored with garam masala, colored orange with curry, chunky with walnuts, pulverized to a paste, laced with BBQ sauce, sweetened with honey, spiced with cayenne, and served from my grandmother’s hand, the celery in hers cut to the perfect petite bite.

I could eat it every day. In fact, I have, from stints at the Sports Page in Highlands, North Carolina to pricey tubs of Robert’s parceled out daily in my bring-your-lunch-to-the-office bag. Granted, this is not something I’d recommend as new pants had to be purchased, exercise had to be committed to, and in some cases, interventions had to be made.  I’ve learned the art of moderation for this mayonnaise-laced treat of choice, but please don’t take that to mean I never indulge.

HERE ARE THREE ALL-STAR CAROLINA SPOTS FOR CHICKEN SALAD

Robert’s Market / Wrightsville Beach / NC / It’s a classic neighborhood grocery store with a chunky chicken salad that is distributed in North and South Carolina through Harris Teeter. Try it, but be warned; I have friends that blame me for this suggestion.

Sports Page Sandwich Shoppe / Highlands / NC / The spot for lunch—chicken salad, of course—followed by a slice of strawberry-rhubarb pie if they have it. Go hiking afterwards to work off the calories. Repeat as necessary.

Five Loaves Café / Charleston / SC / One of the most popular lunch spots in the city, you’ll know you’ve arrived when you spot the gaggle of guests waiting for a table outside. Go for the chicken salad club with bacon and red grapes on bread of your choice.