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Low-country cooking gets high praise in Charleston

July 15, 1996

From Correspondent Linda Ciampa

CHARLESTON, South Carolina (CNN) -- History buffs know Charleston, South Carolina, as the place where the Civil War began. Tourists remember its beautiful ante-bellum mansions. Food lovers see Charleston as the birthplace of Low-country cuisine.


Lucille Grant and Anna Pickney are considered the grandmothers of Low-country cuisine, a style of cooking that combines local Carolina ingredients with influences from England, France, Spain and Barbados.

A main ingredient in Low-country cooking is called "butt fat" It's hog fat, used to flavor many Low-country dishes, such as a dish of butter beans, okra and corn, served with shrimp.

Talented chefs in Charleston are taking Low-Country to new heights.

At Carolina's Restaurant , Chef Rose Durden serves up creations like Sweet Potato Crusted Flounder.

"We took the old recipes from the South and mixed them with some Asian things," says Carolina's Chef Chris Weihs.

Over at Louis' Charleston Grill, Chef Louis Osteen updates Low- country cuisine with soft-shelled crabs, fried green tomatoes and an herb and sprout salad.

"It's sophisticated, has great flavor, and everything is fresh and local," says Osteen.

In Summerville at the Elegant Woodland Inn, you'll find Chef Ken Vedrinski whipping up a plate of Carolina gold rice, fresh fava beans and local frog legs.

If you want to recreate Southern cooking at home, you should stop by Hopping John's Cook Book Shop in Charleston. There are more than seven thousand cookbooks there, many of which are devoted to Southern cuisine." Between the books, the ingredients, and the restaurants, Low-country cuisine will never be gone with the wind in this Southern seaport.

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