If you’ve never taken time to explore the South, South Carolina for instance, you’ll find the cuisine stands out every bit as much as the accent, whether relaxing over a late lunch in cosmopolitan Charleston or tasting your way around more rural environs. Keep your glass of sweet tea handy and a firm hand on the cutlery, and you’ll come through all right, though possibly a few pounds plumper.
Key to what appears most often on the menu is location. Food from all parts of the globe grace many a table in Charleston, but neither is it hard to track down a breakfast of more traditional sweet potato pancakes drizzled with pecan butter, or succulent catfish served up with peanut sauce and okra. This close to the sea, look also for tender crab cakes, seared flounder and grilled oysters as part of the dining experience. In search of a lighter lunch? Try she-crab soup, one you’ll definitely want to introduce back home.
Make your way inland and find that it’s not just Georgia that grows great big juicy peaches. South Carolina’s state fruit just happens to be a peach, and really, you’re not living unless you’ve enjoyed one just off the tree (or in a homemade cobbler) on sale at any number of roadside farmer’s markets in season.
Away from the bright lights of urban areas, look also for down home diners dishing out shrimp and grits, fried zucchini, collard greens and boiled peanuts. Low Country specialties help round out the spread, like crunchy sesame cookies (benne wafers), a rice and peas one-pot dish, Hoppin’ John, or tasty Chicken Bog, a pilau rice plate served with chicken, sausage, onions and plenty of pepper.
Salley, a tiny town southeast of Columbia, is where folks go every year to catch the Chitlin’ Strut, an annual festival that features a state delicacy, Chitterlings. For those short culinary expertise: don’t try this at home. Leave it to the pros at the Chitlin’ Strut.
And finally, for people to like to mix some local tipples into the whole culinary travel experience, circle Wadmalaw Island on your map. The state’s only distillery, Firefly Distillery, has a home here, turning out speciality drinks like Muscadine Vodka, Mint Tea Vodka and Sweet Tea Vodka. I should say so.