The Low Country
This is the geographic and cultural, subtropical area along the coast of South Carolina, including the Sea Islands and the Gold Coast of Georgia. It’s at sea level. Historically, this was a wealthy area of slave-based agriculture, namely indigo and rice. The beautiful marshlands, Spanish moss, beaches, and historical buildings have created the current culture, namely tourism.
I’ve spent a lot of time in this low country. The Avery & Gunner Civil War books have been to reenactments in Yemassee, Charleston, John’s Island. St Helena’s Island is the location of Jim Limber’s school I wrote about. My grandson graduated from The Citadel, and my youngest daughter now lives in Brunswick, Georgia. Our family in years past enjoyed beach vacations at Hilton Head and other islands off the coast of the Carolinas and Georgia.
One unique aspect of the Low Country is the Gullah Culture which is protected and cultivated. The beautiful sweet grass baskets made and sold along U.S. 17 and in the Charleston Market are examples of the Gullah heritage, as well as some interesting menu items, art and preserved language.
Last weekend we were guests at a Low Country Boil. If you were in Texas, you’d have a bar b que, if you visited Maryland, the neighborhood would have a picnic with bushel baskets of crabs dumped on newspapers on a picnic table. The Low Country Boil is like that, it’s a local tradition. It’s cooked outside in a big pot. There are variations, but they all include sausage, shrimp, crab, potatoes, and corn on the cob. So there we all were outside under the starlit sky with the full moon rising. We could hear the ocean waves crashing on the beach while the fire crackled in the fire pit. Laughter and music always accompany young people. These young adults were the staff of the Turtle Center on Jekyll Island, and we were pleased to be included. The big pot was emptied onto the table covered with paper. We reached in and picked out what we wanted, burning our fingers on the steaming pile. This was once called Frogmore Stew. My daughter says, “I don’t eat that mess, but the party’s always fun.” I thought you might like to try this at your next backyard party. Even if you don’t eat the mess, you can still have fun. And it goes well with beer.
Low Country Boil
Heat a large pot of water over an outdoor cooker. Add about 1 tablespoon of Old Bay. Bring to a boil. Add 5 pounds of new potatoes, 3 packages of kielbasa cut into 1” chunks; cook ten minutes. Add 8 ears of fresh corn cut in half, and 5 lbs of whole crab, broken in pieces. Cook for another 5 minutes. When everything is almost done, add the shrimp (peeled & deveined), cook for another 4 or 5 minutes. Drain off the water. Pour contents on a picnic table covered with newspaper. Using fingers load your paper plate. Get a beer from the cooler. Enjoy yourself.