Thursday, January 24

David Shields on the Sweet and Sinister Tale of the Watermelon

As we mentioned last week, our annual Taste of the South weekend at Blackberry Farm was a huge success! Though we couldn't bring back any leftovers from the fantastic meals, we can share this history lesson with you. This year's Taste of the South scholar in residence was David Shields, a culinary historian who teaches at the University of South Carolina. Shields has been instrumental in bringing back some of the staples of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Lowcountry cuisine, such as Carolina Gold Rice, Sea Island Red Peas, and—coming soon—Palmetto Asparagus. Shields often collaborates with Glenn Roberts of Anson Mills to cultivate these crops and Sean Brock of Husk and McCrady's to make them shine on the plate. 

At Blackberry Farm, Shields went deep into the history of the watermelon, revealing tales of sweetness, yes, but also of greed, intrigue, and even murder. Who knew melons were so dangerous? And who knew Shields had such a talent for voices? (Yes, he acts out characters, and yes, it's a hoot.)