Tables of the Reconstruction

Bird's Eye View of Charleston, 1872
Bird’s Eye View of Charleston, 1872

On Friday, I was excited to attend the latest meeting of the Carolina Gold Rice Foundation at the Clemson Organic Research Station. Typical of the meetings I’ve attended in the past, much of the information was frankly over my head- I’m a cook, not a geneticist. But the mission of the CGRF seems to gear towards the convergence of culture and agriculture. Its essence lies not just upon what had Chef Dan Barber calling the “myopic focus on rice  “neurotic”‘ but on the macro- the entirety of agriculture within the Lowcountry during the age of rice culture.

On May 20th, the Old Village Post House will host our second Carolina Rice Kitchen Dinner. I’m calling this one “Tables of the Reconstruction, ” after the famous album by R.E.M. As a licensed tour guide for the city of Charleston, I’m obsessed with learning the granular details of our long history. As a chef, I’m obsessed with putting those stories on the plate, and sharing the sometimes lost flavors of our history.

Many of us familiar with the storied history of our state are already familiar with the decline of rice culture in post bellum Charleston. What began in the beginning of the 19th Century as the age of the farmer / scientist ebbed at the end of the century with the rise of truck farming and industrial monoculture. Not only Carolina Gold rice, but Bradford watermelons and African Runner peanuts were thought lost. Thankfully, due to the diligence and hard work of the members of the CGRF, these flavors are being returned to us. But what other flavors have been lost?

So on May 20th, we’ll have supper, but more importantly we’ll share some stories; about Georgetown caviar, Br’er Rabbit, bootleggers, swamp cabbage, indigo and Rhett’s butler. We’ll hang with some of the cool kids of the scene. And it’s going to be SUPER tasty.

See you at the gig.

2 Replies to “Tables of the Reconstruction”

    1. A Post & Courier article by @hannaraskin from Cook It Raw. Thanks for your eye, Jeff- I’ve gone ahead and hyperlinked it if interested. That comment bugged me forever- really got under my skin. Then I read Barber’s book “The Third Plate” and it’s definitely changed my mind.

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