Ridgeland, South Carolina is a small town full of big tastes and proximity to great destinations. Located south of Charleston, a little north of Savannah, Hilton Head, Bluffton, and any number of coastal sea islands, It’s a great location to go out and explore historical locations, restaurants, discover and experience Galluh/Geechee culture, and enjoy scenic beaches.
I had the privilege to visit in February for one week and I came back a few pounds heavier. Upon arrival I was met with the hospitality of friends, Liz and Gary. True “foodies”, they not only know where to go for a great meal, but can throw down themselves.
The breakfast was only one of several meals shared in their home during our visit. Liz and Gary also introduced me to Dye’s Gullah Fixin’s, recently relocated from Hilton Head, South Carolina, where the restaurant flourished for 30 years.
Born and raised in Ridgeland, Dye grew up in a large family with parents who were both fabulous cooks. Her mom served as one of the main chefs at the Palms Motel in Ridgeland for years. So while mom was working at the Motel, dad often fixed meals at home.
Dye’s menu features many well-known Gullah staples such as Low Country Boil, Crab Cakes, and Stuffed Flounder as well as specially named creations such as Mama Earl’s Baked Chicken (named for Dye’s mother) and Daddy Tuke’s Shrimp “n” Grits (named for her dad). The Baked Chicken came with cornbread dressing. It was honestly the best cornbread dressing I ever had in my life.
If you’re not familiar with terms Gullah and Low Country, go to the rice article under the Food History/Background section of my website for more information. But briefly, the Gullah people are direct descendants of enslaved Africans brought to the United States from the rice-growing regions of west Africa. The Gullah culture is evident in the Sea Islands and Low Country of North and South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. If you would like more information regarding Gullah/Geechee culture visit; www.gullahgeecheecorridor.org.
Last but not least, I visited the art gallery, Red Piano Too. Located on St. Helena Island, South Carolina, it is the go to place to see and purchase handicrafts and artworks produced by local artisans representing local Galluh/Geechee culture. The owner, Mary Mack, an artist in her own right, welcomed us and provided a personal tour.
Ridgeland, one of South Carolina’s best kept secrets.