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South Carolina: Foods to Try While in South Carolina

I had lived in Chicago, Illinois my entire life when I moved down to South Carolina for college. There was a little bit of culture shock, and a lot of new, fun areas and food to explore. After living there for years, there are a few dishes that I consider the south's best cuisine - whether you're in beautiful Charleston or upstate in the mountains.

Southern Barbecue

Pulled pork plates are heaven on earth. To be honest, before I moved to the south I hadn't had much southern barbecue (I thought barbecue meant just hotdogs and hamburgers on the grill), but once I was living there I learned the ins and outs of different smoking styles and sauces that each area prefers. Southern barbecue is pork, chicken, and other delicious meats, smoked for hours and enjoyed with friends. In upstate, you will meet a lot of people who like vinegar sauces popular in North Carolina, but many Carolinians also love mustard based - or “Carolina Gold” as some lovingly call it. I, honestly, like to try them all (and even mix them!).

In addition, it's famously served with amazing sides. Mac and cheese, sweet potato, beans, corn pudding or bread, coleslaw. My mouth is watering as I type.

Fried Chicken (& Waffles)

South Carolina has some amazing fried chicken that is not to be missed. Often, it's served with delicious sides like barbecue is. BUT, it gets better: enter chicken & waffles. Chicken & waffles is a classic southern dish that is the perfect combo of savory and sweet. Yes, I was hesitant at first too, but recently this dish has become more and more popular around the country for a reason. Trust me, if you haven’t yet, give it a try!

Boiled Peanuts

What are boiled peanuts? Exactly what it sounds like: raw peanuts that have been boiled in salty water for hours. Usually creating a softer consistency, like salty, crunchy peanut butter.

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Unlike some other southern dishes, boiled peanuts haven't quite taken off. Many look at them and see mush. But if you love peanuts and love a good salty snack, it's definitely worth a taste. It might not be quite up your alley, but you will be tasting a dish that South Carolinians take very seriously. Driving through the mountains, you might see stands selling homemade boiled peanuts along the road. I often stop for the roadside honey stands, why not stop for a savory snack too?

Banana Pudding

What’s banana pudding? The best. Delicious layers of vanilla wafers, bananas, and custard, in a pudding form.

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You can find this dessert a lot of places around the country, but South Carolina makes some of the best original banana pudding your money can buy. This is also offered as a side at a lot of southern bbq spots, definitely give it a try! I love some good ole vanilla wafers.

Fresh Shrimp and Oysters in Charleston

There is a reason that Charleston has been named "Best Small Cities in the US" year after year. I, too, love Charleston. It is full of amazing food. If you find yourself visiting the area, fresh seafood should be at the top of your food list. On the beaches, you can see the shrimp boats sailing along the coast, ready to bring to restaurants for some fresh dinner dishes. And oysters! Shuck some oysters while in town, and enjoy!

Lowcountry Boil

What is a lowcountry boil? A mix of sausage, shrimp, potatoes, corn, onions, and more, all mixed and boiled together. Then, drained and often dumped on a table to sit around and enjoy!

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The first time I tried a lowcountry boil, I went to a party where a long table was laid out, covered with newspaper, and topped with a mix of delicious meats and vegetables. People were gathered around, grabbing the pieces they wanted and spending time together. That is something I love about lowcountry boils, it's truly a community meal meant to be shared with friends and family.

Shrimp & Grits

What are grits? Dried corn that has been ground and made into a porridge

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Okay, so I will admit, I don't love grits. But, if you're in the south it's a must try! Grits are popular around the midwest too, but South Carolinians have perfected the shrimp and grits combo (grits topped with shrimp and sweetness) with all that fresh Charleston shrimp.

Any other recommendations? Let me know!


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