What is Low Country Food?

Low country refers to coastal regions of South Carolina and Georgia. This area, as have many others, have developed their own cuisine that reflects food staples that are readily available and influenced by the cultures found in that area. Though easily lumped in with traditional “southern” cuisine, low country cuisine has a flavor all its own. Geography of the region has played a large factor in the development of various dishes. With access to the Atlantic Ocean and various estuaries seafood is a main ingredient. The marshlands throughout the Grand Strand and northern Georgia lead to rice becoming the popular grain of choice. Fish, shrimp, crabs, oysters and rice became mainstays of the local diet.

Cultures that influenced much of low country cuisine are: French (Huguenot and Catholic), African, German, Sephardic Jews, British, Caribbean and Native American. Indian and West Indie cultures also found their way into the foods of this region with the use of chutneys and curries in many dishes.

It is the combination of flavors and richness of the available ingredients that make the dishes seem lavish. Many of the settlers and slaves that came into the area brought seeds of their native lands with them, the sea captains that called the coast line home brought exotic plants and spices home. All of these things combined created this regional food.

Cooking methods of the region are quite simple. Many food items can be easily roasted, boiled or grilled. Soups and stews are probably the most common food types in the area. Inexpensive, nutritious and abundant. These meals could be made to feed large numbers of groups endlessly.

Common ingredients for the areas:

  • Quail
  • Duck
  • Turkey
  • Venison
  • Clams
  • Crabs
  • Oysters
  • Fresh water fish
  • Rice
  • Corn
  • Tomatoes
  • Okra
  • Potatoes (specifically sweet potatoes)
  • Native berries
  • Wild figs

Famous dishes from the area:

  • She-Crab Soup – made from female Atlantic Blue Crabs, crab roe, heavy cream, butter, sherry, mace and shallots.
  • Catfish Stew – made from catfish filets, crushed tomatoes, potatoes and onions.
  • Okra and tomato soup – fresh okra, tomatoes and other available meats (sausage predominantly) and vegetables. Okra was introduced by people from West Africa.
  • Frogmore Stew or Low Country Boil – Frogmore, South Carolina was the home of this stew wich is made from shellfish, corn on the cob, sausage and red potatoes.
  • Red Rice or Charleston Red Rice – Boiled rice, crushed tomato, hot sauce, bits of sausage.
  • Oyster Roasts – perhaps one of the most famous dishes and activities from the region. Large fire pits are built and coals are heated up. Fine mesh grates are placed over the hot coals. Large amounts of fresh oysters are piled on and covered with burlap sacks. They are served with shovels with are piled on to make shift tables.
  • Chicken bog – chicken, rice, celery and sausage are made in large pots. Perhaps most famous is the Loris Chicken bog.
  • Hopping John – a dish of field peas, rice, onions and bacon.

About hemphillbrett
Floorcovering specialist

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