Food Network ranked the most delectable foods per state, so I decided I would use their list to choose my 10 favorite South Carolina dishes.
Each state has their unique takes on cuisine and these South Carolina dishes, as labeled by the Food Network, place at the top of my list.
1. Shrimp and Grits
When I moved to Charleston a dozen years ago or so, I was told Shrimp and Grits was something I just had to try. Honestly, the idea didn’t do much for me. I like shrimp and I like grits, but I’d never had them together.
2. She-Crab Soup
It’s best when it’s served as a very thick, almost bisque-like texture. It blends fresh crabmeat and red-orange roe in a thick cream with a bit of cooking sherry. It has a very rich, almost buttery flavor and it’s fantastic!
3. Sweet Tea
I’ve never understood the appeal of unsweetened tea. And for those of you who live in the north, handing someone a class of iced tea and a packet or two of sugar (or any artificial sweetener) doesn’t work: the tea has to be hot for the sweetener to absorb properly.
4. Boiled Peanuts
If you love roasted peanuts, when you try boiled, you have to tell yourself that you’re eating an entirely different thing.
Boiled peanuts don’t look like roasted peanuts. Instead of the normal tan color, their outer coating is a purplish-brown and the meat of the peanut itself is a grayish color. Peanuts are boiled in salt water and, occasionally, other flavors. (But for me, salt water is all that’s necessary.)
5. Southern Biscuits (With Gravy, of course)
You haven’t really had a biscuit until you’ve had a homemade buttermilk biscuit. Add to that a little sausage gravy and you’ve got an incredible comfort food that can serve as breakfast by itself!
6. Fried Seafood
This is sort of cheating because more than South Carolina offers seafood that’s fried. But one of my favorite seafood restaurants does amazing things with fried shrimp.
Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it!
Barbecue is certainly common in states other than South Carolina. In the Palmetto State, pulled pork is one of the most popular meats and a mustard-based barbecue sauce tends to be the most popular variety.
I’m a fan of collards when they’re cooked a certain way and most people don’t cook them this way.
There used to be a restaurant in Lexington, South Carolina, where their staff knew how to cook this cousin to spinach and turnip greens. They would add a bit of baking soda to cut down on the acid of the greens, add some pork for seasoning and just a touch of sugar to cut any remaining bitterness that the baking soda missed.
They weren’t sweet at all. They just weren’t that horrible bitter taste that a lot of greens seem to have. It was the only restaurant I’ve ever been to where I’d happily have multiple helpings of collards.
I miss that place.
9. Pimento Cheese
When I was a kid, I honestly thought pimento cheese looked horrible. I’d only ever had it in finger sandwiches at events like weddings, and honestly, that was more than enough for me.
My best friend’s mother, however, the same woman who introduced me to the pomegranate salad, makes her own homemade variety and even makes grilled cheese sandwiches with it.
If we’re talking about her pimento cheese, I’m definitely in!
10. Duke’s Mayonnaise
Yes, it’s an ingredient, not an independent food on its own. (If you eat mayonnaise by itself, please don’t tell me: I definitely don’t want to know!)
But as Southern cuisine goes, Duke’s is the only mayonnaise. I’ve never been sure why southern grocery stores stock any other brand…particularly that Miracle Whip concoction which is not mayonnaise at all.
If you’re making a sandwich in South Carolina and you don’t have Duke’s, kindly hold the mayo.
That’s my list. Have you ever tried any of these, whether in South Carolina or outside of it?