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FoodCorps Friday: Food Sharing on St. Simon’s

by Ian Rossiter
 My go-to summer job for years has traditionally been guiding kayak tours. This job is amazing. I spent my days on the beaches and in the marshes of our beautiful Georgia coast, which was the ideal environment for me to nerd out on coastal wildlife and all the rest of our natural marvels. And believe me… I am quite the marsh nerd. Two hours of non-stop nature talk is not a problem. For the average tourist looking for a mellow river float, it’s maybe not so much their thing.I would say the most engagement I typically get from my guests is when somebody inevitably asks, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, that’s a neat bird… So where are the best places to eat around here?” They don’t want to know how many gallons of water our native oysters can filter each hour (It’s 2 btw), they want to know where they can get some on the half shell!This is totally valid. People go on tours and trips typically to learn about and experience a new location. What identifies a place more tangibly than its food? It is (hopefully) derived from local produces. It fits on a plate. You can eat it. Food is the most inconceivably perfect and awesome physical manifestation of a culture. For me to share food is to introduce someone to my home and what I grew up knowing and I don’t take it lightly.

That being said, I will confess that I am not always fully honest with my tour customers. Two reasons: 1) During the season, my home town is packed with tourists. Sharing my secret local spots with one guest means sharing them with everyone, which means I can’t get a seat. Honestly, not a big deal for me because I hardly eat out, which leads me to my next point. 2) I source the culture of my favorite food at a hyper-local level (AKA, my favorite hometown food is what I cook and eat with my family and friends). Since I can’t go inviting every guest I take kayaking to family Sunday dinner, they maybe don’t get the full Georgia Coast experience as I know it.

That being said, when I have a guest of my own to introduce to my hometown, I can get a bit carried away. I recently had the opportunity to do just this when my fellow F
oodCorps service member, Bang, accompanied me on a weekend trip for some coastal adventures. Although the trip was brief, I thought we did a pretty solid job of experiencing the area through food, so I thought I would share some of the gastronomic highs of the journey! (Location names have been excluded. If you want to know my favorite spots, you are going to have to befriend me first).

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We started the morning off with some coffee at the local roaster. Nothing better than a warm beverage and a view of the marsh to start the day off.

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Although you should be weary of what the local fauna overhead drop in your cup..

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Bang isn’t much of a breakfast person [weird], but I thought it was particularly necessary that I took him to one of my favorite local bakeries. Although eating these delicious bite- sized pork-filled biscuits and having your pick of the numerous homemade sweet treats may not always be the healthiest choice, I can trace some of my favorite high school memories to this eatery… that one time the school burnt down and everyone came here to celebrate. Classic.

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Almost equally as important as the actual food you eat is the way you get to it. Bicycle, no matter where I’m going or what I’m doing is the always the vehicle of choice. Probably good after that cinnamon roll too…

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Bang Tran, Hunter-Gatherer. Exploring the local seafood options: “Can I eat this?”

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Identifying the local BBQ spots is often a point of contention between folks of the South. Having shared his favorite BBQ place with me in ATL, I thought it was imperative that I inform Bang on what BBQ is supposed to taste like.

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Bang Tran, Hunter-Gatherer-Tenkara Fly-Fishing Master: “Can I eat this?”

As I mentioned earlier, for me, the best food in my hometown come right out of the family kitchen. For this particular trip, that means Mom’s spaghetti and some local oysters roasted on the grill! First of all, my mom makes the best spaghetti. Not up for debate. This is the meal that I remember most growing up and I enjoy as much today as I did at age 4. Second, if you have never been to an oyster roast, you are missing out. A cool weather tradition (as in any month with the letter “R” in it), it is the perfect excuse to gather friends and family around a fire, get messy, and eat lots of great food w/ hot sauce. For me, this epitomizes what it means to live in my hometown and it was my pleasure to share it with my buddy Bang.

Food, in the end, in our own tradition, is something holy. It’s not about nutrients and calories. It’s about sharing. It’s about honesty. It’s about identity.

~Louise Fresco

 

 

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