"Gather ye rose-buds while ye may." Robert Herrick

"Gather ye rose-buds while ye may." Robert Herrick

Hello Friends!

Friends, Romans, countrymen...y'all. Foodies, gardeners, artists and collectors - let's gather together to share and possibly learn a thing or two in the mix.

Donna Baker

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Gullah Geechee


I don't have enough space here to explain it all, but I'll gloss over it, if I can.  I have been studying the Gullah Geechee culture for months now.  The Cherokee Native Americans along with the Choctaw and Chickasaw (of which my husband and children are on the rolls), lived nearby the outer banks of the Carolinas, before relocation on the Trail of Tears, and intermingled with the slaves brought to America.  In fact, they named the West African slaves Gullah Geechee. The coast proved to be a good area to grow rice and the slaves were expert rice growers before their arrival in the 1600's.  The Native Americans inter-married with them and taught them many things, in particular, about more than 600 plants and roots used for medicinal purposes as well as foodstuffs.

Since the Native Americans and slaves had no option to go to doctors, they had to treat/heal themselves.  One example, Slippery Elm Bark, was used back then and today it is aspirin.  The roots and plants were also used in the practice of Hoodoo.  Maybe more on that later.  Their culture was rich and varied.  The Gullah invented the blue hand and eye to drive evil spirits away.  They also began the 'haint blue' paint still used on houses today in the South.  They invented Br'er Rabbit, a trickster in their stories and brought bottle trees to the American south. The Gullah were very superstitious. As I said, too much to tell here.

Above, is the Angel Oak tree on Johns Island, near Charleston, South Carolina.  It is thought to be about 1400 years old and supposedly, the tree has seen many things over the ages.  It is said the other trees nearby take care of it and feed it.  If you get the chance, google it for pictures.  I've never seen another like it. If only I could get an acorn.

Anyway, I ordered an old Charleston cookbook as all the study made me want authentic creole food.  I thought you'd like to see some of the recipes.  I'd love to try the Cherry Bounce.  Those southerners love the drinky winky. Even sloe gin fizzes in the morning are commonplace.


I was looking for a creamy bisque soup and I'm going to try the Kiawha Shrimp Bisque, but with crab.



I'm not sure which recipe I am looking for, so I'll try this one too, as it sounds more like the one I've been looking for.  Notice underneath the recipe it says Charleston is famous for this soup. The one I've had had an orangey spice in it, perhaps saffron or paprika.


I don't know of another food more popular in the south than biscuits. Maybe like the scones in Scotland.


Grits, seafood and corn and rice, okra and beans and greens. Though many nationalities lived in and around Charleston, these ingredients were very popular.  Not only the Atlantic Ocean, but different rivers provided many foods to the area of this major port city.


I've barely scratched the surface.  New Orleans is known for their Cajun food, but I don't think they have anything on Charleston's Creole cuisine.









31 comments:

  1. Looks like a fun cookbook, I like to cook the cuisine. There used to be a chef on PBS that cooked around it, always oooooing and saying dis is good, I guarantee! I followed him for years.

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    1. It is one of the best cookbooks I've got and I used to collect them.

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  2. This is an amazing culture that I have read about, and enjoyed, for years. So much knowledge and history with the Gullah!

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    1. Oh Michelle, I have to go to Charleston (Charles Town) one day. I am going to plan it.

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  3. I am always intrigued to learn about other cultures - and their cuisine is often an excellent introduction.
    I suspect that many of the things dismissed as 'old-wives tales' like the slippery elm have a strong basis in truth.

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    1. Child, have you read Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil?

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    2. I have. And found it fascinating.

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    3. The Gullah Geechee lived from southern Virginia all the way down to Florida. Sadly, developers bought up the islands and other land and sold and built high dollar resorts and houses. Finally, with what was left, they made a Gullah Geechee National Park. The area around Charleston is so old and the architecture and history is unlike any place else in America. I knew you read the book but had to ask. You've read everything and re-read it too.

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  4. We detoured to see the Angel Oak this summer. It is that impressive. We were fortunate to find a Gullah weaver and her granddaughter set up for business on a small front porch, and purchased several sea grass baskets to hold Laura's growing collection of sea shells.

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    1. Oh Joanne, I love that. I bet it was wondrous there.

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  5. So. Many. Questions!

    Isn't corn pone just corn bread? Also: the booze recipes are party-size. :D I wonder who Mrs. Robert Drean was...

    I recall when the film Daughters of the Dust came out back in, like, 1991, or so. The film was an amazing and stylized (from what I remember) look at the Gullah culture down along the the So. Carolina coast. If you've not already seen it, then I would recommend trying to watch it.

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    1. Bea, I never saw it and hope I can find it. I am a tech idiot and wouldn't know how to stream - and really, I don't want to know how. I haven't had corn pone so I don't know, but I think there are so many different ways to use corn, I liken it to using flour. Man different things to be made from flour and even different types of flour. My mom was from New Orleans and the closest weird corn thing I ever ate was when she would make cornbread with chitlins'. It was disgusting. We'd all run out of the house when she'd make turnip greens and turnips and cornbread sticks. One of her favorite things was to break up cornbread and put it in a glass and fill it with buttermilk. We thought is was gross. We were brats.

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    2. Bea, I also wondered about the people. Some of the recipes were very old. I know there were Scots that settled there and other nationalities so I am certain the food was from all over the world.

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    3. Streaming sounds like a pain, but I just checked and one can rent the film via Youtube for 2.99. If you key in the name of the film in the search bar, rental info. comes up. I just watched the film's trailer gratis on Youtube, so that was nice.

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    4. Oh thank you Bea. I can do Youtube. Ha. I'm going to watch the trailer now.

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  6. Such an interesting post today. I loved the history of the people and the traditions.

    cheers, parsnip and badger

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    1. I know Gayle. There is so much more. That's why I've been reading about it for so long. Many characters.

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  7. What interesting facts you gave us today, I love reading history and some people want to erase it like it never happened, my half sisters ancestors walked the trail of tears
    I like reading old cook books and have one hand written from Tennessee

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    1. Oh, I love that. My daughter works for the Cherokee Nation, though she is Choctaw/Chickasaw. She does their history and museums. It is very interesting. I love history too.

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  8. If you ever want to head to South Carolina, I will be glad to give you a tour of the lowcountry including the barrier islands where Gullah culture is still alive! It's pretty down here. :)

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    1. I didn't know you lived there. I can hardly wait to come for a visit and tour the area some day. Such beauty and history. Do you know if the Angel Oak drops acorns or if they sell them to keep up with maintenance? I'd love to have one and plant it.

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  9. The recipes have great titles! The Zucchini bread is similar to a recipe that I was given by a French- Canadian friend - its tasty!

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    1. I love zucchini bread, but I can't grow my own at my city house.

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  10. Hi Donna! Just did a bit of catching up to you. Hope you are doing well with your limitations. I recently learned that I am nearly a quarter Native American! All those recipes seem so exotic to me having been raised in NM. Jeanetta's handwriting is so beautiful. Reminds me of my mother's. I keep passing by the book The Hidden Life of Trees, but I will have to read it eventually. They are the elephants of the plant world and could probably teach us a lot. You are so sweet to let me know you came by! Hope you're soon 100%!

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    1. Yes, I bet the cuisine is so different in NM. I have been there a few times and it certainly isn't the Tex/Mex I am used to. I'm back now and feeling good. Hope you have a good fall.

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  11. Dear Donna did not Mary Whyte an artist - Watercolor - feature the Gullah ladies in a series of paintings? I think she is from Charleston. As for your delicious looking recipes I will come visit you if your in the mood to stir up some southern biscuits 😄! Thanks for such a great post. Hope you will be sharing more about the Gullah people. Hugs!

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    1. I have not seen much about Gullah's. I guess we are too far away from the east coast to hear much. I love the stories though and yes, I love biscuits with butter and honey. My husband loves them with cream gravy. I've tried many recipes, but I can never get that 'break' in the middle. I'll have to try this Angel Oak recipe.

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  12. Wow, Donna. A lot of things here I didn't know, including aspirin being from Slippery Elm Bark.

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    1. I was shocked at all the plants they used along with the Native Americans. The use everything, from the leaves down to the roots. They use it in chewing, tinctures, teas, you name it.

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  13. Wow - what a great cookery book. I can remember sourcing a similar book when I was in my 20s - probably still have it on my shelves somewhere! I used to make a Shrimp Bisque which was amazing, but not meant to eat shrimps or prawns now so that's off the menu.

    I was fascinated to read about the Gullah Geechee culture. I hope you will be writing more on that subject.

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    1. Well thank you Mam. I find it fascinating too. Still have to watch the show a reader recommends above about them.

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