Hush my mouth, Katie Couric longs to be on Hilton Head Island eating hush puppies.
In an interview in the current issue of Southern Living magazine, she says:
"My perfect day in the South would start with grits and biscuits. Then I'd attend an African-American church service -- I love gospel music. Next, I would go for a bike ride through the rolling hills of Charlottesville. Finally, I would find my way to a beautiful beach like Hilton Head, where I would eat fried shrimp, coleslaw, and hush puppies for dinner. It would be a very fattening day -- I can tell you that much."
I hate to inform Katie, but if she wants to attend an African-American church service, she might not have time for the rest of her perfect day. If she went to the Mount Calvary Missionary Baptist Church on Squire Pope Road, her mouth could water while she smelled the hush puppies and shrimp frying across the street at Hudson's Seafood House on the Docks. She would certainly be blessed by the singing of Mary Green and the others. But by mid-afternoon, the Rev. Ben Williams would just be clearing his throat.
Katie might instead want to buy the new 20th anniversary CD from the island's community gospel choir, the Voices of El Shaddai. For that matter, she'd do herself a favor by having the Voices perform songs from "Our Spiritual Journey" on her new syndicated daytime talk show, "Katie."
Y'all will have to tell Katie where to get her fix of fried shrimp, coleslaw and hush puppies. I don't want to get myself killed by saying the wrong thing.
When we moved to the Lowcountry we quickly learned how seriously folks take their corn fixins', and I'm not even talking about the liquid kind. We were told a man was shot by his buddy at a hunting lodge. At the trial, evidence was introduced that the dearly departed had put sugar in the corn bread. The jury gasped and ruled he was shot in self-defense.
However, I will dare to suggest this to Katie. Fried fish is great, but the best way to enjoy our fresh shrimp is straight out de creek.
Twenty years ago, John Martin Taylor, who used to have a funky culinary book store in Charleston, wrote the kitchen bible called "Hoppin' John's Lowcountry Cooking: Recipes and Ruminations from Charleston and the Carolina Coastal Plain." He calls shrimp the backbone of Lowcountry cooking.
"I was tempted to include just one recipe for shrimp (the only one you really need to know), but will state it simply here as a guideline," he writes. "It is the classic Edisto Island recipe, always told in Gullah, the dialect of the Sea Islands: Sree minute, off de hot, out de pot, dey ready."
Thank you, Katie, for the shout out, and for pining to be with us while you're stuck in that wicked New York City. Come on down. We'll hot de water.