Q: Is there anywhere in Charleston to get corn sticks?
A: I love this question, because I didn’t appreciate the primacy of corn sticks in eastern North Carolina barbecue restaurant culture until I started researching it. I’d long classified corn sticks with tuna noodle casserole and no-bake peanut butter balls as a dish typically produced and consumed at home.
But my guess is you won’t love the answer. Corn sticks, meaning cornbread batter baked in corn-shaped molds, are scarce south of Myrtle Beach. I couldn’t turn up evidence of them being served anywhere in the vicinity of Charleston County, even though there’s a stick in every bread basket at Charleston, Cindy Wolf’s celebrated Baltimore restaurant. Bet it pairs nicely with the shrimp ceviche.
And corn sticks haven’t just suddenly disappeared. I consulted barbecue scholar Robert Moss, who has been monitoring the Carolinas for years. “I don’t recall ever having seen any down here,” he says.
Since corn sticks are cute, I wondered if any of the restaurant chains that flaunt their Southern heritage might serve them (while I usually confine my recommendations to independently owned restaurant, I realize your situation is dire.)
But they’re not on the menu at Fatz Café and Ruby Tuesday, which last summer made a big deal about doubling down on its Tennessee roots has reversed course, dropping its bacon deviled eggs and pork rinds with mustard barbecue sauce for tater totchos and soft pretzels.
So unless you’re in the mood to drive to Columbia, where War Mouth serves corn sticks alongside its catfish stew, your best option is probably a box of Jiffy mix (59 cents) and a Lodge cast iron pan ($9.43). If all goes well, maybe you’ll start selling your output to local restaurants; looks like they could use them.