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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Charleston Farmers' Market

Shrimp Po Boy Charleston Style

Charleston sur l'Atlantique

Fresh as Fresh can be

Georgia is the "Peach State," but SC has their share.

Europe is exciting, but in the U.S. there are also plenty of things to race your engine, whip your pony, and blow your hair back.  Some even come with a certain old world charm.  South Carolina, The Palmetto State, has its own slow, well-aged charm and for my money, the beating heart of that charm is Charleston.  No, it’s not the capitol, you idiot!  That’s Columbia, up I-26 for a couple of hours. When I'm in Charleston, one spot in particular draws me back time after time.

That spot is the Charleston Market.  I’m talkin’ cobblestone streets, women weaving sweetgrass baskets, people smiling and saying ‘y’all’ the way you’re supposed to say it.  On Saturday mornings (8 a.m. – 2 p.m.), from April 7 to December 23, I’m talking about an open air, stroll-through, genuine farmer’s market, where you can actually buy yourself a farmer farm fresh produce from small producers.  Tender okra.  Vine ripened tomatoes.  Shiny skinned onions.  In season, you’ll also find fruits and nuts straight from the green vines and tall, stately trees.  If you’re used to a watermelon picked before it’s time and shipped hundreds of miles, a vine-harvested melon, picked only a couple of hours before you eat it, is going to bring a smile to your face.

The open air market is located in historic Marion Square.  When you stroll the grounds, eyeing fantastic artwork, smelling pots of sweet herbs and oven fresh bread, and nibbling plates of all sorts of delectables, including Charleston’s most famous dish, shrimp and grits, take the time to glance around.  Marion Square was ceded to the then Colony of South Carolina in 1758.  The huge edifice to the north was for a time the colony’s arsenal, then from 1843 to 1922, it was The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina, which has since moved to the west side of the city. A historic Baptist Church is right across the street.

The square is jointly owned by the Washington Light Infantry, a military and social organization formed in 1807 and the Sumter Guards, another private organization, and leased to the city.  Under the terms of the lease, the city must maintain Marion Square as a green area.

Right next to the square is St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church, with it’s towering steeple.  Founded in 1840 for German speaking congregants, it’s been in it’s current location since 1872.  There’s too much to include about St. Matthew’s, traditionally known as St. Matthew’s German Evangelical Lutheran Church.  But a couple of highlights are that it’s founder, Johann Andreas Wagener would go on to become a general of the Confederate States of America and later a member of Congress.

Marion Square also hosts a statue of John C Calhoun, and an elegantly sparse and moving Holocaust Memorial.

So, while you’re eatin’ your shrimp and grits, lugging your pots of fresh herbs, gawking at the artwork, and picking up those fresh, jubilantly red tomatoes, gaze across Marion Square and soak in the layers of living history.  It’s all around you and one of the big reasons Charleston is such a special place.

The famous shrimp and grits BBQ Style


  1. my stomach is growling already! so ready for spring and farmers' markets over here! (too bad we don't have spargles!)

  2. Love that place! If we're ever there at the same time, we need to do some eating and drinking. Charleston is the place for that! Best we could talk a crowd into joining us!