27 June 2011

More Culinary Adventures in Charleston, South Carolina

Well hello there, my lovelies! As the title of this post implies, I was in Charleston at some point yesterday. Hehe. It's like a big game of Where's Waldo? except this Waldo is wearing a striped skirt and is most definitely female.

But anyways. Charleston. My family took a guided tour around the city in one of those obnoxious tour buses full of culturally insensitive tourists. In this case, it was completely, totally, absolutely awesome. Our guide was a native Charlestonian who had served in Vietnam and came back missing a couple fingers and with the addition of some metal in his leg. He was absolutely passionate about the history of his town, and since my family was the only group on the bus, we got a much more personalized tour with lots of questions answered.

After our two-hour tour - which ended up running late because of all our questions - my family went to this local seafood resteraunt called Hyman's. When we got to our table, I noticed some little placards screwed onto the edges. They commemorated the famous, shiny people who had eaten at the table we were sitting at. These included Metallica and Barbra Streisand, among others. While eating, I had to battle with the conflicting urges to 1. burst into a full-throated rendition of "Hello, Dolly!" and 2. start muttering the bridge to "Enter Sandman" under my breath. Quite unusual.

But on to the real reason you're reading this post. You, obviously, want to know what strange new foods I had at the restaurant yesterday. There were a few, let me tell you.

First up were the hot boiled peanuts. I'd seen signs advertising these at gas stations all along the East Coast, and the sounded repulsive. So when the kind staff at Hyman's placed some in front of me, I just had to try them. They taste like peanuts, but their texture is ... grainy. Kind of like a combonation of a really mealy baked potatoe and water chestnuts. It's soft and kind of crunchy and really mealy  all at the same time. They're fine, but I wouldn't go out of my way to eat them again.

Dad and I realized that there were fried green tomatoes and fried okra on the menu. Dad is legendary in our family for his extreme distaste for fried green tomatoes, so naturally, I wanted to try them. Now, something to know about Southern food is that when they say "fried" they actually mean "dipped in batter and fried in butter."

Fried green tomatoes are nothing more than big slices of green tomatoes - like the slices on a hamburger - which are then battered and fried. In my case, the fried coating was so buttery that I couldn't really taste the green tomatoes, but the texture was ... less than pleasant. First there was a crunch as you get through the fried exterior. Then comes a squish as the seeds of the slice slurp into your mouth. And then there's a mush as the cooked tomato "meat" enters your mouth. It feels kind of slimy going down. I can understand why Dad doesn't like them.

Fried okra is pretty good, though. Okra is spicy - kind of a mix of black pepper and cayenne. It's a seed pod, like zucchini, but it's hollow inside like a reed. When they fry okra, they slice it horizontally, batter, butter, and fry it. The spiciness of the okra comes through the fry nicely, without being too overpowering or overpowered. It's texture is like sauteed zucchini. I give it a plus, but because of the frying, I"m not sure I'd eat it again.

The next thing I tried were hushpuppies. They're basically like cornbread donuts. They're balls of cornmeal that's been - you guessed it - fried. The outside is lovely and crunchy, and the inside is piping hot and a little sweet. I would eat them again, but not many.

By the time I got through the boiled peanuts, fried green tomatoes and okra, and hushpuppies, I was starting to get a stomach ache from all the rich food. I don't understand why people call this style of food "comfort food", because it just makes me feel uncomfortably greasy and disgusting.

I was glad that I ordered seafood marinara instead of seafood alfredo. While the marinara doesn't disguise the fishiness of the fresh seafood as well as alfredo, it didn't contain butter, cream, and flour. The last food I tried was scallops. Because I had a stomach ache, I'm not sure if my distaste for these were from the texture, or just from orneriness.

Scallops. They're like big, cylinders of white muscles. Which are then cut into kind of thick circles and placed onto a perfectly good dish like they complete the dish. I couldn't taste anything, but it felt like I was biting into a tongue or something from the texture of the meat.  I'll have to try them again today - I've got tons of leftovers - and see if sans stomach pain, they are any better.

I'm no longer in South Carolina, by the way. For all you stalkers out there, Problematic's current location is just outside the Technology Triangle in North Carolina. That is to say, I'm somewhere in the area of Durham, Raleigh, and Chapel Hill. The sun is shining through a level of clouds high up in the sky. We're doing laundry, and my pigtails are swaying gently in the air-conditioning. Life is good, folks.

Now let's have at that seafood.



  1. Boiled peanuts! Wow! I've never heard of such a thing!

  2. Hehe, stalking your vacation is so much fun... ;)