Holy City primer published
Pity the poor tourist or recently arrived new resident bewildered by the broad sweep (and minutiae) of Charleston history.
Harriet McLeod sympathizes, and the former Post and Courier columnist and editor has penned a primer on the Holy City and the larger Lowcountry aimed at getting them up to speed. Not to mention entertaining readers along the way.
Enter McLeod's "Good Morning, Lowcountry! Local Knowledge, Odd Facts, Recipes, Survival Tips for Living in the South Carolina Swamp" (Evening Post Books, $12.95).
"Especially now, during the observance of the Sesquicentennial, it's important to know that Charleston is a much older city than one dating from 1860," says the native daughter and freelance writer. "It started out as a swamp and to an extent remains a beautiful swamp in many places. It's my favorite place in the world, and my favorite journey is always the road home."
Apart from determining the geographical boundaries of the Lowcountry -- it's not just a state of mind, McLeod says -- the author offers a smorgasbord of vital information for those who would be conversant in area lore (and not be condemned to a life of cultural faux pas).
Some delights to discover include:
--Ben Moise's recipe for Frogmore Stew.
--What pluff mud actually is.
--What all the various exotic smells around the Lowcountry are.
--That citizens used to drive on the left side of the road.
--The proper way to eat an oyster.
--How things (names, places) are pronounced.
--What kinds of frogs dwell in the Lowcountry.
--Our greats myths and superstitions (busted!).
--The Lowcountry's extraordinary history of pestilence and disease.
--All you need to know about local critters and hurricanes.
--Everything you need to know to get along about so-cial etiquette (among the alligators or at cocktail parties).
Rather than do a collection of her popular "Good Morning, Lowcountry" columns, which ran in The Post and Courier from 2003-08, McLeod approached her slim book from the point of view of Lowcountry topics from the Colonial period.
Her target audience, "most-ly cum'yahs (visitors and new residents).
But bin'yuhs (longtime denizens) also will find things they didn't know about or have forgotten.
Armed with the defensive camouflage that knowledge brings, even you can navigate the one-way streets of the Historic District, the squadrons of voracious gnats and the wet-blanket heft of summer humidity.
Call 958-7367 or visit www.eveningpostbooks.com.