Oyster roasts, magnolias and Pat Conroy
This must be the “South”… USA, that is.
While away from my beloved France, I thought, perhaps, friends there and beyond might like to know how we spend time in the winter months in the southern states along the east coast.
In Beaufort, South Carolina — where I used to live– the Historic Society throws a party in January as a fund raiser for the organization. An oyster roast is held “down by the riverside” in front of one of the town’s most beautiful and historic properties — Marshlands.
This year the weather was very agreeable with temperatures in the 50’s. (I’ve been to some when the temps were barely above freezing.) Unless there’s torrential rain, folks gather around each year, ready to put down bushels of steamy hot oysters, served by the bucketfuls.
Oyster roasts, southern style, are accompanied by a spread of pork barbecue, baked beans, coleslaw and cornbread. For most of us, the main attraction is the plump oysters that are plucked out of the marsh-water beds that surround the town.
Nothing like their oyster cousins in the south of France that are single-shelled and huge, the low country variety are small but, oh…so tasty. Short knives with wooden handles are put to action slipping into the crevices of the shell clusters. You know it’s worth the trouble when you take your first bite, with lemon slices, saltine crackers and hot sauce on the side.
The tradition of serving steaming oysters on long tables by the waterway goes back to the earliest times of southern living.
Truly, in Beaufort, old customs are very fitting. Here Spanish moss and ancient oaks have graced the landscape for centuries.
Stately mansions have survived revolutionary and civil wars.
The flags of five nations have flown over this town– Spain, France, England, the Confederacy and American.
Novelist Pat Conroy calls this “home” and many of his books and movies have been rooted right here, including “The Prince of Tides”, and “The Great Santini.”
“Forrest Gump” and the “Big Chill” were filmed in Beaufort, and at least a dozen more.
In Beaufort front porches, magnolia trees and quaint gardens are common along historic district streets.
Breakfast patrons at Blackstones stand to pledge allegiance to the flag mornings at eight (see #3).
Not far away are beaches and scrub grass and places to play.
Yes, if there are beautiful destinations you want to see, head to one of the best on earth — Beaufort, S.C.