I’m a writer, cook, and recipe developer. I’ve been living in Albuquerque for the past few years, but by the time you read these words, I’ll be back my hometown of North Charleston, South Carolina.

We don’t have the cobblestone streets they have downtown, but there is history in North Charleston, stories and lives that deserve to be recognized and celebrated. There are historic Black communities all over this city. When I say North Charleston, I talk about home and family. Not just blood relatives, because everybody here is a play cousin. You are always welcome somewhere.

Everybody represents their community. I grew up in the Chicora-
Cherokee neighborhood. We call it “Tha Macon” and our sign is m$m. People who live in the Heights call their neighborhood The Hike. If you’re from Dorchester Road you live on “D-Road” or “Dorchedda Road.” That naming is how we make a place specifically ours. You can be driving down the road, with your windows rolled down, and start a conversation with the lady in the car in the other lane, who also has her windows open. And you can sit there talking for a while. People are friendly like that.

Caribbean Delight

My grandmother, Sawda Ganaway, talks about them all the time. About their snapper and rice and peas and cabbage. When she talks, I always crave seafood from our waters. Everybody talks about their oxtails, too. Soon as I get home, I’m going to go see my grandmother and tell her to get dressed and let’s go to the Caribbean.

Marvin’s Seafood

They’ve got shrimp and blue crab. Whiting and porgy. People are going to be in line talking like they have always talked. You have to know how to order. If you want crabs, do you want male, female or mixed? Do you want your shrimp head on or off? Do you want your whiting scaled and gutted? Did you check the eyes on the porgy? Did you check the gills? I can remember walking in here with my grandma, being hand held, beginning then to learn.

My Three Sons

This is a new place to me. But I’m hearing good things. About their turkey wings and devil crabs and fried whiting plates. Maybe I’ll get a fried shark steak. Or maybe I’ll get my grandma to fry me some shark later. In other places, people freak out about shark. We fry it and eat it. I know I’m going to order peach cobbler. We love sweets in my family, but not many in my family know how to make sweets.

Nana’s Seafood & Soul

When I get settled, I’ll be almost walking distance. That will be good for Nana’s pocket, I’m thinking, and bad for mine. They’re a Black-owned business that’s now all over social media. Everyone talks about Nana’s. And about their crabs in Nana’s famous garlic sauce.

“Most Visited Places” is an ongoing digital and print series, underwritten by The Mountain Valley Spring Water.

Illustrations by Bridgette Blanton / Tiny Pencil Studio