25 Oct 2023
The charming towns of coastal South Carolina have a rich and succulent cuisine specific to the region. An article on the website Eater rundowns terms that every visitor should know.
The Lowcountry is the geographic region hugging the South Carolina coast, including the islands. The term also describes certain dishes.
For example, a Lowcountry Boil is a specific dish every local knows how to prepare. It is made with corn on the cob, potatoes, shrimp, and sausage, boiled with spices, and served together. The Salty Dog at Bohicket Marina Village on Seabrook Island prepares its Jake’s Lowcountry Boil with fresh East Coast shrimp, Andouille sausage, and veggies steamed with Old Bay seasoned butter.
She-Crab Soup is a rich, creamy bisque featuring crab meat and sherry. A butler created it at Charleston’s John Rutledge House Inn in the 1920s for President William Howard Taft. The Atlantic Room at the Kiawah Island Golf Resort serves a delicious version.
Another item on many local menus is Carolina Gold rice, the preferred variety of rice in the country in the 1780s. By the American Civil War, 3.5 million to 5 million bushels were grown in South Carolina. But by the Great Depression in the 1930s, it was almost extinct due to other varieties gaining favor. It was brought back from near extinction in the 1980s from seeds in a research lab collection. The Atlantic Room serves it with several dishes, including the Country Captain dish with fresh catch, shrimp, mussels, clams, and crab.
An Oyster Roast is a fall tradition on the Carolina coast. A roast takes place by placing bushels of local oysters over a flame and covering them with a wet sack. While few restaurants prepare an oyster roast, many serve oysters raw and baked. Kiawah Island Resort has seasonal public Oyster Roasts, with the next one set on Nov. 25. Learn more here.
Shrimp and Grits, believed to have originated in Charleston in the 1950s, is a regional favorite, so much so that South Carolina declared it the official state food in 1976. Grits are boiled in milk and butter for a thick and creamy texture, then topped with quick-seared fresh shrimp. Almost every seafood restaurant will have shrimp and grits on the menu. Acme Lowcountry Kitchen on Isle of Palms serves six varieties featuring blackened, sautéed, or fried shrimp over pimento cheese grits.
Now that you know the lingo, enjoy the cuisine during your Lowcountry stay.