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Favorite Southern Writers

Today, I want to share a list of my favorite Southern writers.  I read for pleasure and fun so you will see that most of my list would not be considered the most intellectual choices.  I will say however that I love Charles Dickens and Robert Frost.

John Grisham – A great mystery writer but my favorite of his is The Painted House and it isn’t a legal mystery.

Nicholas Sparks – He is not originally from the South but I love his romantic novels.  He writes about places I have been and places I love.

Pat Conroy – Again he wasn’t born in the South but I am sure he considered Beaufort South Carolina as his home.  I loved his book South of Broad and his writing is completely different from anything I have read.  He definitely wrote with his heart and wrote the best cookbook I have ever read.

Mary Kay Andrews – Many of her books are set in Savannah and that makes me love them even more.  They are usually hilariously funny and it just makes me think of girlfriends and their special relationships.

Fern Michaels – Again, Fern wasn’t born in the south but she lives in South Carolina now.  She can surprise you in her books as some of them are nothing but fun. However, some of them can be mysterious and suspenseful.

Sue Monk Kidd –  One of my most favorite books was written by Sue, “Invention of Wings.”  I enjoyed it so much and will continue to read books written by Sue Monk Kidd.

Ann B Ross – I have enjoyed reading some of  the Miss Julia Series books written by Anne.  They are light and easy to read.  As Miss Julia is older, I can see me in some of the situations presented in these books and I usually end up laughing out loud.

I don’t think we should ever judge anyone for their book choices anymore than anything else we do.  If I want to reach down in the depths of my soul, I read Pat Conroy.  If I want to read a page turning mystery, I read John Grisham.  If I want to laugh out loud, I read Mary Kay Andrews or Ann B. Ross. Just as most of life, it is definitely a choice.

Happy reading everyone and thanks for stopping by.

 

Beaufort, South Carolina – Pat Conroy – Shrimp Shack

Today as I write this hurricane Matthew is headed toward the United States.  Please include the people of Haiti in your prayers as that country was devastated by this hurricane.  Also pray that our country including my sister in Wilmington will miss a direct hit from this powerful storm.

I think today is an appropriate day to share a post about our visit to Beaufort, South Carolina as we headed for Hilton Head Island, South Carolina in September.  Beaufort is only a few miles from Hilton Head Island and I really became more familiar with it when I read Pat Conroy’s cookbook.  He wrote about how you must visit the Shrimp Shack that was near his home in Beaufort.  We decided to visit Beaufort and have lunch at the Shrimp Shack. Sadly another reason I wanted to visit Beaufort was to visit the gravesite of Pat Conroy as he passed away in the Spring.

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We arrived at the Shrimp Shack and Mr. D looked at me suspiciously and asked what I was going to have.  I have never really liked Shrimp and have eaten it occasionally.  I told him I was having a Shrimp burger because Pat Conroy said I would have never lived if I did not eat Mattie’s Shrimp burger.  It was such a historic event, Mr. D thought it was necessary to take my picture.

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Was it good?  Yes it was.  It was almost as if they had taken tiny popcorn shrimp and made a patty out of them and rolled the patty in a crisp corn meal/flour combination.  Of course, it was fried.  There was a sauce on the burger that seemed to be made of mayonaise and other spices but was very mild in flavor. Did I like it?  Yes, it was very good and Mr. D agreed that it was very tasty.  As I could see the shrimp boats from the front porch of the Shrimp Shack, I am positive that was fresh shrimp.  I have learned that what I really disliked in the past was seafood that was not fresh.  I don’t have the same passion for the Shrimp Shack that Pat Conroy wrote about in his cookbook but I would visit again and recommend that you visit the Shrimp Shack if you are in the area.

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Our next venture was to find the grave site of Pat Conroy.  I had googled the location before I left home and we had an address. We knew that he was buried in a Gullah cemetery in Beaufort.  Gullah people were black people settling in the low country when they came over from Africa and I assumed it would be a little difficult to find. With our GPS we knew we were on the right road but only saw one cemetery and it did not have a name or any identification on it.  We pulled into the cemetery and saw that it was maintained by the Brick Baptist Church and I had read that the church maintained the cemetery where Pat Conroy was laid to rest.  I saw a newer looking monument and it was his tombstone and grave site.

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It was such a beautiful peaceful place.  The only thing you could hear was the birds chirping and the swish of the trees in the breeze.  What a beautiful resting place and it truly told me that Pat Conroy loved the low country and wanted to have his final rest in a quiet out of the way location.

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Even though I was familiar with him and knew he wrote many novels including The Prince Of Tides, I had never read one of Pat Conroy’s novels.  As news was received in the Spring of his passing, Mr. D read one of his novels, South of Broad, and told me I would like it.  I did read that novel and it was so different and written so eloquently.  I could relate to the characters because it was set in a place, Charleston, that I am familiar with and during the time I grew up.  I do look forward to reading one of his novels again in the future.

When we arrived at the cemetery there was a couple getting into their car and they were from out of state.  I recognized them and realized they had eaten lunch at the Shrimp Shack while we were there.  I guess I wasn’t the only one fulfilling one of the things they had on their bucket list that day.

I understand why Pat Conroy loved this beautiful place and I pray Matthew will be kind to our coast.  Thanks for stopping by.

Goodbye Pat Conroy But Your Words Will Live Forever

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This week, Pat Conroy’s funeral was held on Lady’s Island near Beaufort South Carolina.  He was a prolific writer and his many works included The Great Santini and The Prince of Tides.  He passed away last week of Pancreatic Cancer.  It was sad for me to hear of his passing and actually one of my most favorite books that he wrote was his cookbook, The Pat Conroy Cookbook.  When I contemplated writing this blog several years ago, I wasn’t sure what type of subject matter I wanted to include.  I strarted reading his cookbook and realized he was a “foodie” and actually I think he was the first person that I realized could assume such a wonderful title.  I read his introduction to the recipes in the cookbook and I realized he had been a world traveler and shared recipes from time spent in Italy and Paris.  However, I also realized his heart was in the low country of South Carolina and that was his home.

I decided at that time that I wanted to introduce Southern recipes on my blog and also Southern traditions.  I did not want my blog to be a cooking blog that taught skills but a blog that shared my love for food and for the South.  As I read his beautiful descriptions of food, I realized I wanted to share food that was near and dear to my heart.  However, I am also very aware that I could never write as beautifully as Pat Conroy.

I have never read one of his novels in completion.  However, I think that would be a great idea right now.  Mr. D is listening to the audio version of his book, South of Broad.  He said it is written in such a special way and has such beautiful imagery of Charleston, South Carolina.  Mr. Conroy’s love for the people, places and experience of South Carolina are expressed so beautifully by him.

So we now say farewell to Mr. Conroy and also thank you for the wonderful way you had with words.  This is what the Monsignor Cellini said about him at the service:

Conroy wrestled with inner demons, Cellini said.

But he likened the mystery of Conroy’s life to the ingredients of a chocolate cake. Consumed individually, none is good.

God brought together the various aspects of Conroy’s life to form something special, Cellini said.

“The beauty of Pat Conroy is in his writing,” Cellini said. “The beauty you brought to the world will live forever.”

Read more here: http://www.islandpacket.com/news/local/community/beaufort-news/article64760507.html#storylink=cpy
Thank you for that Monsignor Cellini and I am sure Mr. Conroy chuckled at being compared to a chocolate cake.  However, he did have a passion for food and I think that was a wonderful comparison.  In the cookbook there is a chapter entitled, “Why Dying Down South Is More Fun” and he talks about how Southerners prepare food for the grieving families.  I agree it can be more fun but not so much when we are grieving the loss of you.  Rest In Peace and I hope you left us with the assurance your words and recipes will be with us for many years to come. Here is an except from that chapter of the cookbook:
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When I make my annual visit to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina this year, I am sure when I see that sign to Beaufort, South Carolina I will think of you and your passion for words, food and life. You will be missed.
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