There are chefs who know how to prepare good shrimp and grits throughout the South. But you can't go wrong sampling them in their hometown of Charleston, South Carolina. Uploaded by farm3.static.flickr.com.
This is a low country favorite, the low country consisting of Charleston, South Carolina (Great American Things, June 7, 2009) and its environs. It unites two Southern favorites in one creamy and succulent dish.
For the ultimate experience, the shrimp should be a little on the spicy side. And the grits have to be the real, stone ground variety. They take longer to prepare, but no self-respecting Southerner would make this dish with instant grits. No suh!
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Where can you go to enjoy this dish as it was meant to be prepared? You can get good shrimp and grits all the way from the Blue Moon Beach Grill in Nags Head down to Dante’s Kitchen in New Orleans. But why not go to the source? Several Charleston establishments serve their own distinctive versions, and you could easily spend a week going eatery to eatery to make your own selection. But here are some favored by locals: Hominy Grill (Rutledge St.), Slightly North of Broad (E. Bay St.), Jestine’s Kitchen (Meeting St.), and 82 Queen (Queen St.).
Now that's some fine-lookin' chicken from Willie Mae's Scotch House in New Orleans. Uploaded on Flickr by jasonperlow.
Don’t even start with me on nutrition and the health perils of fried foods. I’m not saying you should eat fried foods every meal, every day, or even every week. But when you want some good food, especially good chicken, nothing beats it good and crispy fried.
Those of you who live outside the South can just save your breath telling me how good your fried chicken is in Indiana or one of those square states out West. Fried chicken is a Southern dish. It’s meant to be eaten with potatoes, maybe mashed or even potato salad. And sweet tea. But then, that’s a separate Great American Thing all its own.
Willie Mae's was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, but has been rebuilt. Photo uploaded to Flickr by kaszeta.
The South has many fried chicken meccas, but one that’s often considered the best is Willie Mae’s Scotch House in New Orleans. The restaurant was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, but reopened a couple of years ago and is by all accounts as good as ever. Reading a couple of the five-star reviews on the dining site Yelp.com tells all you need to know:
“Hands down the best fried chicken EVER.”…”The chicken was divine. The batter so light and crispy. The meat so moist and tender.”…”The BEST FRIED CHICKEN IN AMERICA. If you are planning a trip to The Big Easy, this should be numero uno for your dining destinations.”
Fried chicken may be a disappearing art, considering the changing dietary preferences of Americans. And I’m sure you’re mama or your grandma made some really good fried chicken. If you can’t enjoy it now, get to one of the vanishing Southern restaurants where it’s still offered. Not KFC, though. Let’s all agree that grilled chicken isn’t what the Colonel had in mind. Take a look behind the scenes of Willie Mae’s in today’s video: