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A new cookbook traces the flavors and foodways of South Carolina, serving up fascinating facts and historical recipes

A new cookbook traces the flavors and foodways of South Carolina, serving up fascinating facts and historical recipes
October 2021

Get the recipe for chef Kevin Mitchell’s catfish and crab stew



Mitchell (top left) and Shields (bottom left) have collaborated on a variety of projects, including Nat Fuller’s Feast: The Life and Legacy of an Enslaved Cook in Charleston. (Right) Hungry For History: Taste the State ($35) will be released October 12 by the University of South Carolina Press.

When asked to create a guide to South Carolina foods, David S. Shields and Kevin Mitchell approached the task with relish. Shields, a Carolina Distinguished Professor at University of South Carolina, is the author of several culinary histories. Mitchell, a chef instructor at the Culinary Institute of Charleston with a master’s degree in Southern studies, had cut his teeth on Lowcountry cooking with Charlotte Jenkins for her book Gullah Cuisine: By Land and By Sea (Evening Post Books, 2010). The result is Taste the State: South Carolina’s Signature Foods, Recipes, & Their Stories, profiles of 82 ingredients and dishes that exemplify the origin stories of our food and foodways, including the contributions of Native Americans, the Gullah Geechee people, and European settlers, and spanning every region, Lowcountry to Upstate. From grits to gravy, persimmon to pilau, the reader will savor each for what it was and what it can become.

Fresh Take: Chef Kevin Mitchell created a handful of recipes for the book, such as this catfish stew, “as a counterpoint to the traditional recipes,” says coauthor David S. Shields, noting that the dish was a favorite of open-air events up and down the state. Mitchell’s version includes olive oil, fresh tomatoes, corn, and crab. >>GET THE RECIPE HERE

“Since there are a host of cookbooks that offer 21st-century takes on Carolina classics,” write the authors, “in most cases we offered the most historical or traditional recipes that could be found—the ones that shaped the food that we know now.” Seasoned with these originating recipes and spiced with new ones, such as Mitchell’s Catfish and Crab Stew (pictured above), it’s a delicious read for the culinary armchair aficionado as well as the kitchen gourmet.