“Are you the lady from The Post and Courier?” a woman asked me through the rolled-down window of her minivan.
When I confirmed I was from the paper, she said her young grandson thought as much. He’d seen me on my bike between the half-dozen Spirited Brunch sites they’d visited, and wanted to know when he could come to the event again.
Sunday’s event wasn’t billed as the first annual self-guided snack tour of downtown houses of worship because, as persnickety reporters see it, an event isn’t annual until it’s happened at least twice. But the boy in the backseat wasn’t alone in calling for a repeat of the free program jointly organized by The Post and Courier and College of Charleston’s religious studies department.
“One word: Fantastic,” writes Susan Carter of Grace Church Cathedral, which welcomed more than 100 visitors. “Let’s do this event every year!”
If there was a complaint about the program, it was that attendees were perpetually torn between enjoying the hospitality of one congregation and traveling to the next. According to hosts, most visitors took their time touring sanctuaries and asking questions, rather than just darting from caramel cake to baklava.
But even attendees who only visited three or four congregations were treated to plenty of sweets, including German apple cake at St. Johannes Lutheran Church; chocolate babka at Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim; dates at the Central Mosque of Charleston; Huguenot torte at Grace and hamantaschen at Brith Sholom Beth Israel.
“There’s a difference in the structural integrity of apricot and poppy seed,” a volunteer there sighed, explaining to a visitor why there were fragments of the triangular pastry's apricot version prettily arranged in a trifle bowl. Sometimes, to understand another culture, it helps to know how its cookies crumble.
There were savory dishes along the way too, including “Bethel sandwiches,” featuring cream cheese and green olives on white bread; the combination has been a favorite of Bethel United Methodist Church’s women’s group for more than 75 years. And the Unitarian Church in Charleston wowed guests with meticulously made okra roll-ups: Thus far, creator Fran Ennis hasn't acceded to calls to share the recipe, but another member reveals her secret is pickled okra.
"Everyone had nothing but compliments about today’s wonderful tour of the local churches," Dolly Lipman of St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church writes. "We heard several people say that they hope this becomes an annual event."