From Blue Hills to Green Sea: Representing South Carolina Foodways

The Georgetown County Library (GCL) will present a major project to celebrate South Carolina’s unique food history and culture. “From Blue Hills to Green Sea: Representing South Carolina Foodways” will provide perspectives of both scholars and laypeople and will offer three main elements: (1) a virtual symposium on March 4 – 5, 2021 featuring several noted scholars from South Carolina and around the country; (2) a digital video series showcasing South Carolina chefs demonstrating the preparation of culturally significant meals; and (3) a digitization project of community cookbooks, family recipes, and other foodways ephemera to be archived in the GCL digital collections. The project will explore how foods and meals serve as a major basis for identity and heritage across South Carolina, past and present, and hold local and national, even global significance. South Carolina Humanities supported this project with a Major Grant.

Beginning on Thursday, March 4 at 10:00 a.m. with a virtual talk by UCLA Distinguished Professor of Geography Dr. Judith A. Carney on how foods of African heritage became signature ingredients of Lowcountry dishes and foodways—links centuries deep, yet still very much with us—GCL will broadcast a series of online presentations by specialists who will explore various elements of South Carolina’s deep and diverse food traditions. Other prominent scholars from near and far will also share their expertise as they lead us on a fascinating culinary adventure across South Carolina from the Piedmont (“Blue Hills”) to the Lowcountry (“Green Sea”), exploring the social codes of notable cookbooks; underlying secrets of Gullah cuisine; influential Jewish traditions of eating and drinking; moonshine from the state’s “Dark Corner”; vital contributions of Charleston’s freed and enslaved cooks; South Carolina signature foods and dishes; crucial food symbolism in the state’s literature; and emerging links between Appalachian and Gullah foodways. The “From Blue Hills to Green Sea: Representing South Carolina Foodways” online presentations will take place 10:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m. on Thursday, March 4 and again 10:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m. on Friday, March 5, and will be free and openly available to the public online on the GCL Facebook page. The online symposium will also include a presentation by GCL staff on the foodways materials archived in the GCL digital collections as well as a screening of the digital video series highlighting special South Carolina meals, “Delicious History: Cooking with Lowcountry Chefs.”

To view the presentations, go to the GCL Facebook page at the scheduled date and time: You do not need to have a Facebook account to watch the presentations on the GCL Facebook page. In addition, all presentations will be made available for viewing afterwards on the GCL YouTube page:

The full schedule of presentations is as follows:

Thursday, March 4: 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

  • 10:00 a.m.: Dr. Judith A. Carney, Distinguished Professor of Geography, UCLA / “Africa’s Food Legacy in the Atlantic World”
  • 11:00 a.m.: Dr. David A. Davis, Associate Professor of English, Mercer University / “How to Read a Southern Cookbook”
  • 12:00 n.: Dr. Matthew Dischinger, Lecturer of English, Georgia State University / “A Southern Shabbat: Jewish Foodways in South Carolina”
  • 1:00 p.m.: Veronica Gerald, Distinguished Professor Emerita and Founding Director of The Charles Joyner Institute for Gullah & African Diaspora Studies , Coastal Carolina University,  & Owner and CEO, Gullah Global, LLC  / “All Shut-Eye Ain’ Sleep: Gullah Cooking and the South Carolina-Africa Link”
  • 2:00 p.m.: Dr. Jessica L. Martell, Assistant Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies, Appalachian State University / “Moonshine in South Carolina’s ‘Dark Corner’: Whiskey’s Trendy Resurgence”
  • 3:00 p.m.: GCL Staff, / “Foodways Materials in GCL Digital Library”

    Friday, March 5: 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
  • 10:00 a.m.: Dr. David S. Shields, Carolina Distinguished Professor, University of South Carolina / “The Importance of South Carolina Signature Foods”
  • 11:00 a.m.: Kevin Mitchell, Chef Instructor, Culinary Institute of Charleston / “How Charleston’s Enslaved Cooks Transformed Southern Cuisine”
  • 12:00 n.: Dr. Tara Powell, Associate Professor of English, University of South Carolina / “Nikky Finney and the Poetry of South Carolina Foodways”
  • 1:00 p.m.: Dr. Zackary Vernon, Associate Professor of English, Appalachian State University / “Contested Cuisines: Examining Controversies in Southern Foodways”
  • 2:00 p.m.: “Delicious History: Cooking with Lowcountry Chefs” video series, with host Dr. Robert F. Moss, author of Going Lardcore: Adventures in New Southern Dining

The digital video series showcasing South Carolina chefs demonstrating the preparation of culturally significant meals will be released after the virtual symposium.

For more information, contact Dr. Dan Turner, / 843-545-3363.

The mission of SC Humanities is to enrich the cultural and intellectual lives of all South Carolinians. Established in 1973, this 501(c) 3 organization is governed by a volunteer 21-member Board of Directors comprised of community leaders from throughout the state. It presents and/or supports literary initiatives, lectures, exhibits, festivals, publications, oral history projects, videos and other humanities-based experiences that directly or indirectly reach more than 250,000 citizens annually.

Photo by Alaina Cherup from FreeImages