Available on ckbk now
Taste the State: Signature Foods of South Carolina and Their Stories

Taste the State: Signature Foods of South Carolina and Their Stories

by Kevin Mitchell and David S. Shields


Chef-scholar Kevin Mitchell and English professor David Shields make a formidable team as they unravel the history and traditions of South Carolina’s foodways through their investigation of 82 ingredients (and 150 recipes), from asparagus to Yaupon tea. The book explores the important role that Black and Indigenous cooks and chefs have played in establishing the local cuisine. Compelling reading.

from the publisher

From the influence of 1920s fashion on asparagus growers to an heirloom watermelon lost and found, Taste the State abounds with surprising stories from South Carolina's singularly rich food tradition. Here, Kevin Mitchell and David S. Shields present engaging profiles of eighty-two of the state's most distinctive ingredients, such as Carolina Gold rice, Sea Island White Flint corn, and the cone-shaped Charleston Wakefield cabbage, and signature dishes, such as shrimp and grits, chicken bog, okra soup, Frogmore stew, and crab rice. These portraits, illustrated with original photographs and historical drawings, provide origin stories and tales of kitchen creativity and agricultural innovation; historical "receipts" and modern recipes, including Chef Mitchell's distillation of traditions in Hoppin' John fritters, okra and crab stew, and more.
Because Carolina cookery combines ingredients and cooking techniques of three greatly divergent cultural traditions, there is more than a little novelty and variety in the food. In Taste the State Mitchell and Shields celebrate the contributions of Native Americans (hominy grits, squashes, and beans), the Gullah Geechee (field peas, okra, guinea squash, rice, and sorghum), and European settlers (garden vegetables, grains, pigs, and cattle) in the mixture of ingredients and techniques that would become Carolina cooking. They also explore the specialties of every region―the famous rice and seafood dishes of the lowcountry; the Pee Dee's catfish and pinebark stews; the smothered cabbage, pumpkin chips, and mustard-based barbecue of the Dutch Fork and Orangeburg; the red chicken stew of the midlands; and the chestnuts, chinquapins, and corn bread recipes of mountain upstate.

Taste the State presents the cultural histories of native ingredients and showcases the evolution of the dishes and the variety of preparations that have emerged. Here you will find true Carolina cooking in all of its cultural depth, historical vividness, and sumptuous splendor―from the plain home cooking of sweet potato pone to Lady Baltimore cake worthy of a Charleston society banquet.

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Original Publisher
The University of South Carolina Press
Date of publication

Features & Stories

Newsletter: Southern US cooking + celebrating cranberries

Newsletter: Southern US cooking + celebrating cranberries

Cooking with heart and soul in the American south“It’s one of the truest forms of American cuisine, because American cuisine to me sometimes can be a mishmash. Southern food, soul food, gullah cuisine, whatever you want to call it. It’s not going anywhere.”Kevin Mitchell – Taste of the State
Southern US cooking

Southern US cooking

We caught up with Kevin Mitchell and David S Shields, authors of Taste the State (newly added to ckbk) to hear more about he history and significance of the ingredients and dishes at the heart of the cooking of South Carolina, and to discuss the food culture in the Southern US more generally.