Low Country Cuisine

Maxwell: Welcome back to The Grateful Palate here on NPR. I’m Maxwell Standish and we’ve got two experts in low country cuisine here with us today. They are the Jimmy Brothers with their new cookbook “Low Down and Hard to Find: The Little Known Traditions of Low Country Cuisine.” So glad to have you with us.

Jimmy 1: Good to be here.

Jimmy 2: We’ve always loved your show. It’s great to finally be here.

Maxwell: For those listeners that aren’t really familiar with it, tell us a little about low country cuisine.

Jimmy 1: Oh, absolutely, Maxwell. Low country is a style of southern cooking that’s been around for thousands of years…

Jimmy 2: Tens of thousands of years.

Jimmy 1: …Since before the first settlers ever even stepped foot on the great soils of South Carolina, the traditions of Charleston style cooking had already taken hold.

Maxwell: Really? Tens of thousands of years?

Jimmy 2: Many of the dishes that have evolved into what is considered modern day low country cooking were actually derived from the early French Accadian settlers…

Jimmy 1: Which had evolved from the English, Spanish, French, and Spanglo-Saxon explorers.

Jimmy 2: Which were borrowed, of course, from the Native American tribes of the area… the Billiboy, Skanozauick, Grathermine, Trablow, Trintrot, and Hotpotsticker tribes.

Jimmy 1: Don’t forget the Southern Fricassee tribe.

Jimmy 2: Right. The ill-fated Southern Fricassee.

Maxwell: Ah, I assume that’s where the dish Chicken Fricassee gets its name.

Jimmy 1: No. That’s actually from the Western Fricassee tribe.

Maxwell: So, describe a typical low country dinner to our listeners, course by course.

Jimmy 2: Oh, with pleasure. Well, first, I think we’d probably want to start off with a nice plate of cold cracklefish belly tarts…

Jimmy 1: They’re these delicate pecan and sow lard tart shells with a smear of dandelion compote in the bottom and a liberal helping of cracklefish belly inside.

Jimmy 2: I’d probably serve a lemon tea milk punch with that.

Jimmy 1: Don’t want to drink too many of those!

Jimmy 2: Then I’d probably serve the traditional she-male lobster broth with a biscuitine croutonette.

Jimmy 1: There’s only one school of lobsters off the coast of Nippletree Island that has both male and female genitalia. They are the most succulently confused shellfish on the face of God’s green earth.

Jimmy 2: So delicate. Then, brother, what would you serve for the second soup course?

Maxwell: Two soup courses?

Jimmy 2: You said you wanted an authentic low country supper-dinner, right?

Maxwell: Of course!

Jimmy 1: I’d start the second soup course with a bacon-jelly stew… but right before my guests had a chance to eat it, I’d yank it away in typical low country fashion.

Jimmy 2: (CHUCKLING) Authentic low country soup thievery.

Jimmy 1: …And I’d replace it with a warm stone wrapped in a linen napkin in the bottom of a pot of old pasta water.

Maxwell: Hmm. That sounds pretty unusual.

Jimmy 2: Well, I suppose it seems odd to outsiders. But if you’re accustomed to the centuries old traditions of low country cooking, it’s de rigueur.

Jimmy 1: Then I’d move on to the entrée. And I think I’d go pretty conservative on this one.

Jimmy 2: I think I know where you’re going with this.

Both: Jackal brandied shrimp intestinal tracts with cherry pit preserves grit-cakes and a handful of damp grass clippings from that guy next door’s back yard!


Jimmy 2: Classic!

Jimmy 1: I’ll admit it. I’m predictable!

Maxwell: Mmm. Sounds so good! What’s for dessert, fellas?

Jimmy 2: Well, we’re addicted to fifteenth century cookbooks.

Jimmy 1: They’re really the only reliable resource for truly authentic recipes.

Jimmy 2: And we don’t even like to call them recipes, really.

Maxwell: What do you call them?

Jimmy 1: Food lists with instructions.

Maxwell: That seems a bit harder to say than “recipes.”

Jimmy 2: Well, these dishes are harder to make, so…

Jimmy 1: Yeah. Which makes them more satisfying.

Jimmy 2: And we recently came across a food list with instructions for a dessert called Tratelltaler’s Quincey Meat and Locksmith Pudding.

Jimmy 1: Which, of course, isn’t a pudding at all.

Jimmy 2: No. What it is is about two pounds of lead pipe filings whipped together in a copper bowl with a truncheon with three egg whites, crusted port, bridalberries…

Jimmy 1: Which are actually just coming into season right now on Cuntycunt Island…

Jimmy 2: And served in a pair of arsenic soaked, lace bloomers.

Maxwell: I’m having a hard time imagining what that dish would taste like.

Jimmy 1: Which is why we brought one with us today!


Maxwell: Oh my goodness. I wish the listeners at home could see this! And smell it!

Jimmy 2: Yes, it fills the room with scents!

Jimmy 1: Scents of the past!


Maxwell: Mmm. It’s really indescribable. It’s unlike anything I think I’ve ever put in my mouth. But I guess if I had to describe it, I’d probably say it tastes a little bit like poison.

Jimmy 2: Yes! That’s it exactly.

Jimmy 1: Yeah. We get that a lot. A lot of people say it tastes like poison.

Maxwell: Well, thank you so much, Jimmy Brothers, for coming on the show today. Once again, the book is called “Low Down and Hard to Find: the little known traditions of low country cuisine.”

Jimmy 1: It’s been a pleasure.

Maxwell: Sorry, what?

Jimmy 2: He said it was a pleasure.

Maxwell: Oh… nope. Now I can’t hear you or see you.

Jimmy 1: Oh Jimmy. I think our dessert is killing him.

Jimmy 2: I think you’re right Jimmy.


Maxwell: Oh my gosh… I can’t stop eating this! It’s going to go straight to my thighs…