Ap 26/27; Days 153/154 Food Festin’ Fun in Charleston

 

Before leaving Beaufort, SC (aka  Bewwwwfur), we met up with our friends Jerry and Margot, freshly back from arm-cast removal, for some fun catch-up time and a yummy dinner at a tapas restaurant—great blackened grouper and curried shrimp! (forgot to take a pic!)

2017-4-28 pineapple
The pineapple is a southern symbol of welcome hospitality that started back in the colonial days when a captain returned from the seas and speared a pineapple on the picket fence to let his friends  know he was home and to come visit.  Then those fancy-pancy southern belles adopted the concept when entertaining….except pineapples were rare and hard to come by.  So they rented them and a single pineapple made the rounds through many homes! And to indicate the party was over, the hostess removed the pineapple from the mantle or table and the guests got the message it was time to leave. (I do certainly like THAT concept!)  Ultimately for the right price, you could actually buy it and eat it. So the real act of hospitality and sign of wealth was when you served ham with a pineapple ring on it! Now you can see these welcoming pineapples used in decoration motifs throughout the south.
2017-4-28 cemetery church beaufort
Old church and cemetery in Beaufort…full of a lot of big ol’ (dead) movers and shakers.

 

We left Beaufort under great conditions– air and water were fantastic.  Scenery was too!

2017-4-28 ICW to charleston
On the ICW heading toward Charleston, South Carolina

We passed a pair of replica boats. Here’s the Nina:

2017-4-28 nina w dinghy
A bit incongruous– if not also anachronistic.

 

2017-4-28 hurricane hugo
Maybe it’s hard to see….but that sign is the highwater mark of the waters during Hurricane Hugo in 1989  (Frankly those high water markers on the Ohio River seemed more intense…. but obviously they weren’t compounded by the winds!)

A nice day on the water got us to the Charleston City Marina:

2017-4-28 charleston marina pano
Sunrise the next morning –one of the many benefits of Ziggy: getting up and out for an early walk frequently results in the best pix!

After our arrival at the marina, we jumped on the marina shuttle for a quick ride into the historic center and reconnoitered for our full day, tourist- extravaganza the next day. Lots of quality-looking restaurants here as well “old stuff” to learn about.  BUT we saved the learning for the next day, and focussed on a great raw oyster place for a super deal (so great, apparently N returned there the following day without B while she was getting a haircut!)

2017-4-28 oysters fr gr tom okra
Oysters and fried green tomatoes with pickled okra  at Amen Street Restaurant.  “Rockin roddy” oysters harvested from Beaufort—the one where we were the day before.

 

2017-4-28 skateboard
Almost as incongruous as the Nina pulling that modern dinghy.

The next morning we skipped our usual breakfast on board but still enjoyed our early sunrise walk:

2017-4-28 morning sun grass charleston
Although these waters are dead flat here, it’s only because it is slack tide.  We are on a river and the current rushes past (in both directions depending on the tide) In fact, the super high and lows right now result in the marina parking lot flooding every night.

Well, in the name of efficiency, we decided to combine an eating AND a walking tour into one event and also finally cash in on a birthday gift from one of the kids. Can’t get much better combo than that!

The tour included 6 or so super good foodie stops, an introduction to Low Country food, solid general history, Gullah history, and a lot of other interesting tidbits from a knowledgeable guide.

2017-4-28 food trio
NOT shown here were the best grits ever—lesson learned: look for Low Country Grits….not Southern grits!  Yummy pork slider with crisped, tabascoed onions and yes…white bread with mac and cheese, collard greens….and more pork! (Actually a failed English settlement left a bunch of pigs around and that was one of the many roots to the beginning of the pork-centric diet. Likewise, the Spanish explorers purposefully did so for future use.)
2017-4-28 baskets
The Gullah people still hand make these beautiful functional works of art using sweetgrass, bulrush, pine needles and palmetto palm– just as their African ancestors did.  They are on display at the Smithsonian AND in our Great Northwest at the Burke Museum.   The really pretty basket toward the back could be purchased for $1100!

The Gullah descendants of former Sierra Leone slaves were specifically brought here to cultivate the golden rice-the original crop.   That crop was one of those accidents that changed the course of history: A ship Captain came into the Charleston port for repairs and to thank the city gave them a 12 pound bag of golden rice from the west coast of Africa.  Oddly, they did exactly what should have been done and threw it out!  And in the marshy land and climate that matched the Sierra Leone conditions, the rice naturally thrived. Those English colonists had no idea how to cultivate it (nor the desire to hang out in mosquito infested marshlands) so that, actually, marks the starting point of the whole concept of slavery in the South…and then it moved on to cotton and tobacco, etc.

The Gullah are amazing linguistically too: 25% of their current words are still exactly those of the Sierra Leoneons on the western coast of Africa.  Only because there was minimal mixing in of other Africans into the rice fields and the geographic isolation of this Low Country and the barrier islands. In fact, children’s songs and stories are the same as those that are still used in Sierra Leone!

After all that eating, walking and learning in the humid heat, we jumped onto a horse drawn carriage for some neighborhood touring and more history lessons.

2017-4-28 horse and N
The Big Boys.  This guy is mongo-super strong! For that matter, so is the Belgian Draft Horse!  And despite a vociferous anti-carriage horse group whose battle cry is “Just Say Neigh”  these horses are really well-cared for (even their temperature is taken after each outing and taken out of the circuit if too high) .  In fact, these are all “hand-me-downs” from the Amish farmers who worked them much harder on the farms.  Our horse was only 8 years old…so not running old hags!

 

2017-4-28 horse church
Lots of info about the city, building styles and, needless to say, churches.  We passed by about gazillion churches…only one of which was catholic though–they didn’t allow in their midst many sympathizers of those Floridian-Spanish that were threatening them from the south! (Interesting how history seems to repeat itself and, in hindsight, seems to have been needless, if not laughable!) 

 

Both of these houses are classic—a door from the street leading to the outside deck (they called it a piazza…but pronounced as if you were from New York) that either faced south or west to get the breeze from the river.  The piazza faced a small area that abutted the neighboring house which, for privacy, had no windows facing that side.  If that door was open, it meant neighbors and friends could stop in for a visit; if closed, it meant you were in your underwear cooling off!   Guess that was their solution to the scarcity of pineapples!

A long needed hair cut for B and a couple of little museums (the Old Slave Mart Museum and the Daughters of the confederacy’s Confederate Museum) for N finished off the day ….oh, and those other dozen oysters on the half shell for N!

 

One thought on “Ap 26/27; Days 153/154 Food Festin’ Fun in Charleston”

  1. Great pictures. I’m glad you were able to enjoy the ambience of Low Country Charleston–food and history! Pork belly and grits. Mmm Mmmm. In Myrtle Beach, there are a gazillion yankees, Canadians, and tourists from all over the world. Very few true Southerners would spend time there (Boy does that sound prejudiced….). Except those who love to shag!

    Calabash is the area famous for its fried food. Little River is a bit upstream and has Capt. Juel’s Hurricane. I’m not sure it is a 5 star restaurant. Kind of family style, but well known for its fresh seafood. But as you wind north, you will be heading towards Wilmington. Starting north of there, you will have no shortage of beauty to enjoy! I can’t wait to see your pictures. Travel safely! J

    Like

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