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Fresh or Fried: A Southern Cultures Seafood Reader

Twelve fish(ish) tales—from harvesting wild oysters along Georgia's coast to celebrating bonefish in the Carolinas.

Plus, three essential accompaniments: a sleeve of saltines, a bottle of Florida hot sauce, and a wedge of Ocracoke fig cake. Subscribe to Southern Cultures and receive a Seafood Reader tea towel, illustrated by Julienne Alexander.

beep Food

Cut It Clean

Oyster Shuckers in Eastern Virginia

by Sara Wood
Deborah Pratt and her younger sister Clementine Boyd are stabbers. For almost forty years, stabbing has supported them and their families, brought them fame, and taken them around the world. Stabbing is a method of shucking oysters that winds through generations of African American families in the Chesapeake Bay region. It’s done like this: you »
beep Photo Essay

An Eye for Mullet

Brown's Island Mullet Camp, 1938

by David S. Cecelski
In the autumn of 1938 a photographer named Charles A. Farrell visited a seasonal mullet fishing camp at Brown’s Island, in Onslow County, North Carolina. What he discovered there captured his imagination: a remote hamlet of fishermen’s shanties far from civilization and two legendary clans of fishermen in relentless pursuit of one of the Atlantic’s »
beep Food

“Veiled in Emerald”

Apalachicola Ecology

by Diane Roberts
I walk into Boss Oyster Bar in Apalachicola, the little port town at the bottom of the famous river. Boss cuts to the chase, dispensing with ruffles and flourishes, a seafood shack of the old school, a bit scruffy, wind-whipped, with some young salt sitting there with a bushel of bivalves shucking as though the »
beep Food


by Zachary Faircloth
Misshapen paleozoic fish, atavist, tired of climbing the evolutionary ladder and waiting for a thumb or feet or the ability to breathe on land, one year you just stepped off and let the others pass you by . . . And do you ever wonder?—That is, what if you had climbed all the way to the »
beep Photo Essay

Georgia’s Wild Oyster Harvest

by André Gallant
Georgia’s coastline is roughly a hundred miles long, pegged at the north by the Savannah River and to the south by the St. Mary’s. A series of barrier and coastal islands marks its length and protects an essential and pristine estuary from Atlantic waves. Between mainland bluffs and barrier islands is a salt marsh, the »
beep Interview

An Evangelist for Bonefish

On the Hook with Ricky Moore

by Southern Cultures
My name is Ricky Moore, I’m the chef, owner, and chief rocker of Saltbox Seafood Joint, located in Durham, North Carolina—Bull City, U.S.A. My family came from Riverdale and they all moved to New Bern—a little small town, very historic. It used to be the capital of North Carolina way back when. New Bern is »
beep Food

Panfish: Spot On

by Bernard L. Herman
“‘I would say the average age of most people that buy spot now is probably sixty. Nobody young comes in this door and buys a box of fish.'” Late summer the phone rings in the Bayford Oyster House on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. “Bayford,” H. M. Arnold answers. “Yes ma’am,” he says a few »
beep Food

Eels for Winter

by Bernard L. Herman
Part I Eels rolled in crushed black pepper and chopped parsley cook in the smoker. Four more culled from the twenty or more in my eel pots chill on ice awaiting the same culinary fate. It’s September and winter holidays start early around here, and smoked eel is a part of the celebration. I always »
beep Food

The Crabfather of Colington

by Georgann Eubanks
Murray Bridges, the proprietor of Endurance Seafood, was in his sock feet. He was sitting on a burgundy recliner in the den of his brick ranch house in Colington, North Carolina, near Kill Devil Hills on the Outer Banks. Bridges, now in his mid-eighties, specializes in soft-shell crabs, but he wasn’t working on the water »
beep Poetry

A List of Waters

by Tyree Daye
1The scar that flows from my aunt’s thighto the boulder of her swollen ankle is a mapof the Haw River,each toe a Blue Heron. 2My mama’s water               is all water, I’m every river rockinside her being smoothed over. 3The palms of my uncle’s handsare the Deep River when he is holding a gutted trout.Always somethingis bleeding. »
beep Photo Essay

Food Matters

by Tom Rankin
I was in second grade in Kentucky when my friend Bobby invited me to spend Friday night with him and go fish a farm pond the next morning. His father, a long haul truck driver, was off work for the weekend and drove us some thirty miles out of town where we baited simple bream »
beep Food

Alongside Shrimp and Bluefish

Ocracoke Fig Cake

by Andrea Weigl
I have had a longtime love affair with Ocracoke Island—a sixteen-mile stretch of land on North Carolina’s Outer Banks. I eloped there, returned for my honeymoon, and try to go back every year for a family vacation. My tryst with Ocracoke fig cake is almost as long. I encountered my first slice at Ocracoke Seafood »
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Bottling Hell

Marketing St. Augustine, Florida’s Datil Pepper

by Anna Hamilton
“‘My husband likes to say . . . ‘We’re not just another hot sauce, we’re 400 years of history.'” Datil peppers sun on five bushes by the pool in Mary Ellen Masters’s backyard next to Faver Dykes State Park—a wild, scrubby preserve in south St. Johns County, Florida. Masters, whose family has lived in the »
beep Photo Essay

The Fishing Village of McClellanville, South Carolina

by Vennie Deas Moore
McClellanville, a seaside fishing village, was founded in the early 1850s by rice planters from the Santee Delta. The little village became the summer home of these wealthy planters, who left their plantations for a few months each year to escape illnesses like malaria. The village contained modest “shotgun” houses and some very fine, large »
beep Poetry


by Michael McFee
How well its square fit my palm, my mouth, a toasty wafer slipped onto the sick tongue or into chicken soup,   each crisp saltine a tile pierced with 13 holes in rows of 3 and 2, its edges perforated like a postage stamp,   one of a shifting stack sealed in wax paper whose »
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