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The Lowdown On Low Country Food

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NY1 travel correspondent Valarie D'Elia headed to the south to get the lowdown on Low Country cuisine. She filed the following report.

Something's cookin' along the southeastern coast of the United States, where the marshes sprawl for miles and the highest point is just a few inches above sea level.

"It's not necessarily southern cuisine. It is low country cuisine," says Sarah Cothran of Bulldog Culinary Tours. "Nouvelle cooking. There's a lot of French and English and Gullah, black traditions around it."

Indeed, Gullah cooking traces its roots to slavery.

"It's a derivative from the word Angola, because we came from Angola," says David Young, chef at Roast Fish and Cornbread. "We were Gola people, so it came to be Gullah people."

A national heritage region called the Gullah corridor spans the distance between the North Carolina and Florida borders.

It is on Hilton Head Island, at Roast Fish and Cornbread, where Young keeps his 180-year family history alive through his cooking.

"Our Gullah food is older than America," he says.

Chef David's grilled seafood platter adds more than a dash of his own special spices. Unlike one crispy method of Southern cooking, Gullah food is rarely fried.

"The brisket, we have stewed chicken, we have conch stew here and there," he says. "It's pretty much what we can find locally."

One hundred some odd miles to the north of Hilton Head, visitors taste their way through Charleston with a two-and-a-half hour "Savor the Flavors" Tour.

"We stroll around downtown Charleston, talking about the history of low country cuisine and how the history of the cuisine of this area so influenced the history of the South," Cothran says.

The tour makes stops at such Charleston institutions as Dixie Supply for its stone ground grits and sweet potato cornbread.

"The grits here are are the most amazing grits I have ever eaten in my life," says one tour participant.

What could be better than getting a history lesson that's so easy to digest?

As is common practice in the travel industry, Travel With Val often receives complimentary travel or reduced "media" rates at hotels, resorts and attractions, including those that may be featured in these reports. Such consideration is not taken in exchange for any express or implied promise or understanding of any nature, particularly regarding the content of these reports. These reports only feature travel providers personally recommended by Valarie D’Elia in the exercise of her independent editorial judgment, and do not represent the endorsement of Time Warner Cable or any third party. ClientIP:, UserAgent: CCBot/2.0 ( Profile: TWCSAMLSP