Greens from South Carolina

By Tom Hanchett

Amid the office towers of uptown Charlotte, a dusty blue pick-up truck arrives each morning piled high with produce.

That’s Frankie Meeks, the “greens man.” He’s headed to Mert’s Heart and Soul where he delivers towering stacks of collard greens and other vegetables every day.

Meeks grew up in a gardening family in Charlotte’s University Park neighborhood off Beatties Ford Road, then at the edge of the city. He started selling fresh produce to senior citizens complexes, and today also services half a dozen restaurants including Merts.

“Hoy Nichols, down in Lexington, South Carolina, he grows greens for me year-round,” says Meeks. “Summer, the leaves are bigger, winter-time the frost makes ‘em sweeter.” There’s many kinds. “Ones called blue greens, very dark, others that look like cabbage.”

Collard greens are a taste-memory of the rural South. At Mert’s, owner James Bazzelle recalls the greens from his grandfather’s garden. But he prepares them a new way.

“I cook them with vinegar, onion, garlic, like the old days. But we want to eat healthy now, so no ham-hock. We use olive oil. And for flavor we put in a spice called adobo. Got that from Latino cooking.”

Mert’s Heart and Soul
214 N College Street
Charlotte, NC 28202
(704) 342-4222

Lunch every day, 11am – 3pm
Dinner Tues-Sat beginning at 3pm
Brunch Sat & Sun beginning at 9am

foodheader
Center City & nearby
Carolina apple cider
Indian street food
Greens from South Carolina
Upstate NY Italian sausage
Swiss-German bakery
Blackberry memories of Brooklyn
Puerto Rican kabobs
South Boulevard, South Tryon & southward
Mexico + Greece = holiday treats
Cuban box pig
Snack foods from India
SC meets Vietnam
Little corner of El Salvador
Arepas from Venezuela
Indian sweets for Diwali
Colombian soup
Korean at China Wing
Indian food in south Charlotte
Mexican take-out
Mexican Tamaleria
Fort Mill — real Chinese
Independence Boulevard, Monroe Road & environs
Nigeria in east Charlotte
Korean BBQ
Brazilian bakery
Secret Greek grocery
Colombian BBQ & snacks
Detroit hot dogs
New York bagels
Halal Latino
Russian-Turkish Grocery
Iran Kabobs in Matthews
Ramen in Matthews

Central Av, Albemarle Road & vicinity
Family-style Ethiopian
Dominican street food
Jamaican black cake
Somali stew and sides
Schawarma from Jerusalem
Oriental buns
Greek pastries
Bosnian sausages
‘Tis the Season for Champurrado
Latino bakery feeds a region
Taste Monterrey, Mexico
Tamales in Plaza Midwood
One restaurant, three Latino traditions
Guatamala in east Charlotte

North Tryon, UNCC area & northward
Asian Moon Cakes
Mexican carnitas
Beef on Weck from Buffalo
Indo-Chinese
Dominican fruit shakes, pressed subs
Mexican ice cream
Louisiana Viet crawfish
Salvadoran comfort food
NYC pastries – Lake Norman
Vegetarian eats from south India
Westward
The Patio at Our Lady of Guadalupe
NC fish camps
Fried baloney
Grits & cornmeal
El Tamarindo
Laos in Kings Mountain
Lawrence Caribbean