It is my treat to pass on the amazing Charleston historian Nic Butler’s blog tonight:
The benne (or sesame) seed has long been a staple in the traditional foodways of the South Carolina lowcountry. Most people here, especially tourists, first encounter this delicious seed in the benne wafer—sweet, crunchy, bite-sized discs that one finds everywhere in and around Charleston. In recent years, however, historically-minded chefs have been using benne in a wide variety of dishes, from pastries to main courses, in the effort to restore the tiny seed to its former place as a staple of lowcountry cuisine.
With this renewed interest in benne, I’ve heard a number of statements about its history in our community, some of which left me scratching my head. I’m not a culinary historian, but I do have a passion for tracking down documentary evidence that sheds light on the myths and realities of Charleston history. After a bit of archival digging, I can report that while there are still many unknown chapters in the story of benne in the…
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