The marshy coastal lowlands of South Carolina and Georgia, known as the Lowcountry, is an area as distinct in cuisine as it is in geography, and Charleston, the Holy City—called so for its preponderance of churches—puts you smack in the middle of it all. It is a place where the history is long and difficult, marked by a slew of natural disasters, the devastation of the Civil War (which started here, at Fort Sumter), and decades of postwar decay and poverty. All of it is hard to imagine in the glorious, impeccably restored Charleston of today.

This city’s story cannot be told without confronting that era of United States’ history during which the slave trade dominated the South. Forty percent of all American-enslaved Africans, many of them from West Africa, entered this country through Charleston Harbor. It is from those slaves that many aspects of the region’s cuisine were born, from masterful deep-frying and one-pot cooking to the rice that’s come to define the area, which Africans brought and cultivated here.

Read More