2.24.2011

Sweet, Southern Hushpuppies!

Courtesy of Jason's scrapbook,
his dog was the famous Hush Puppy Dog
We’re still talking dogs on the Hines-Sight Blog this week.  You  have a few days left to vote for your favorite dog’s photo on the Blog's Facebook page.  Voting ends on February 28th at 8 pm EST.  You can help determine the Top Dog by Blog hitting “like” by your favorite photo.   The dogs are so cute in this contest that it may be hard to choose just one dog.  That’s okay!  You may hit "like" for several dogs.  The dog with the most Facebook “likes” will be featured right here in the Hines-Sight Blog.

I bet the owner of the Top Dog will be so delighted that he or she may even throw some hushpuppies their dog’s way.  I’m not talking about the shoes that made a basset hound famous, but rather good old-fashioned, southern, yummy hushpuppies.

Did you know that this southern delicacy got its name because it is believed that cooks on southern plantations fed these little cornmeal delights to hush dogs when they barked or howled?  Some stories even date back to the civil war, with confederate soldiers giving hushpuppies to their dogs so they could surprise Union soldiers.

Courtesy of Chesapeake House
Restaurant in Myrtle Beach, SC
Today, hushpuppies are a side staple at Seafood and BBQ restaurants for people all across the South.  Some hushpuppies are sweet while others have more of a savory onion taste.  I grew up eating a lot of hushpuppies because my father was in the restaurant business for over 30 years before his sudden death from a brain tumor in 2005.   Grover, as he was known by everyone, owned a restaurant in the mountains that specialized in breakfast, country cooking, steaks, and seafood.   His cooks made probably a 1,000 or more hushpuppies a day!   Dad’s hushpuppies, served in the mountain town of Sylva, North Carolina, were very different from what you find toward the coast of North Carolina and South Carolina.  Eastern North Carolina hushpuppies tend to be small, and easier for humans or dogs to eat in one bite.   These little deep fried morsels of goodness can range from savory herb/onion to as sweet as dessert cake.   Even though my dad was from Durham, North Carolina, and not a true mountaineer, he tailored his restaurant’s hushpuppies to fit the tastes of his customers.  His hushpuppies, although not eastern style, were tasty, and rather large in size because they were hand scooped, but not as sweet in taste as I prefer to munch on today.


Courtesy of Ella's of Calabash
Fresh, hot, sweet, small hushpuppies can be dangerous to your waistline though because before your lips can say, “ Oh my, these hushpuppies are good!”, you’ve already downed about five of them before you realize it.  I have tasted a lot of hushpuppies since my childhood, and I just happened to marry a man who loves fried shrimp and North Carolina BBQ so I have eaten hushpuppies on about every beach trip I have taken with him in the past ten years.   We frequent North Myrtle Beach at least once or twice a year because our family owns a beach rental there, and MiMa’s house in Tilghman Beach is the perfect spot to indulge in what is called “Calabash style seafood” because it's just 15 minutes away from the rental.   This article published in the "NY Times" in 1983 best describes the buzz around Calabash, NC and the style of seafood found in this small town nestled on the North Carolina-South Carolina border.    It’s ironic that my family owned a restaurant that served fried seafood, but yet, I was never a big fan of the entrĂ©e until I became pregnant with my daughter in 2009.

Now, I love fried shrimp just like Bubba Gump, and have to get fried shrimp any time I’m near the coast.   Like his daddy, my five-year-old son also adores fried shrimp and it is a meal that he looks forward to on trips because I certainly don’t do much frying in my home.  I leave that up to the restaurants!

This photo was taken in Calabash this past summer on one of our beach trips to MiMa's house.

At Ella's in Calabash, NC

This week, I asked the Hines-Sight Blog Facebook fans where they have eaten the best hushpuppies.  The majority said Calabash, NC.   I’ve not eaten at all the restaurants in Calabash, but I’ve had a lot of good hushpuppies in North and South Carolina through the years.  As a result, I’m going to name my top favorite restaurant for hushpuppies.
Most of these restaurants are on the coast so go ahead, and call Grand Strand Vacations, book the house named Surf Chalet, and indulge in my hushpuppies, fried shrimp, and BBQ in the Carolinas, but you
are going to have to pay Raleigh, NC a visit, too.

Sweet Hushpuppies that Can’t be Beat!

Myrtle Beach, SC

Restaurant Row
Myrtle Beach, SC

Seafood Capital of the World
Calabash, NC

Topsail Beach, NC

Raleigh, NC

Hines-Sight Blog readers named the following restaurants as places with excellent hushpuppies.   I’ve not been to all of these, but agree that the ones that I have visited are good. 

Captain Nance's Seafood, Calabash, NC
Dockside, Calabash, NC
The Fish House, Oak Island, NC
Bullocks BBQ, Durham, NC
Joe’s BBQ, Whiteville, NC
Dale’s Seafood, Lake Waccamaw, NC
Currituck BBQ,  Barco, NC
Dixie Queen Seafood, Winterville and Farmville, NC
BBQ Lodge, Raleigh, NC

If you want to add to this list then please tell us.   We would love to know about the restaurant because in the south, we definitely love good hushpuppies and you can never eat too many.

Until next time, I’m going to bed thinking about  my next beach trip with fried shrimp and hushpuppies or I may just wander down to Ed Mitchell's restaurant, The Pit, because I may not be able to wait til Spring.

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