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  • Writer's pictureTeresa Conway

South Carolina - The Palmetto State

Updated: Sep 10, 2023

Eighth state to join the U.S.

First state to secede the U.S.

Two Truths and a Lie

The Recipe - Benne Wafers

Benne is the Bantu word for sesame. Benne seeds were brought to South Carolina by enslaved West Africans in the late 17th century. Originally enslaved people grew benne in secret gardens for their own uses, but it soon became a popular crop throughout the South. Benne Wafers are thin cookies featuring these tasty seeds. They have been popular in Charleston for more than a century.

I had to use modern sesame seeds which are more oily and less flavorful than heirloom Benne seeds but much easier to find in a supermarket. The recipes I found reminded me of florentines with a thin dough holding together a large amount of seeds. As they bake they spread into a thin wafer that is both savory and sweet.

I toasted my seeds first to bring out as much flavor as possible. I combined several recipes into one to forge my own path. I used more sesame seeds than flour to really highlight their flavor and increase the wafer’s spread.

I am not sure I made a faithful version of Benne Wafers. I fear I was overzealous with the butter which resulted in a chewy cookie rather than a crisp wafer. I can attest that they are highly addictive. Before my conscious brain could decide if I enjoyed the rich, savory notes of sesame in a sweet cookie, my lizard brain snatched two more of the tray. I have since eaten a dozen on my own and can understand why this cookie is so beloved in the Lowcountry. I hope to visit Charleston someday soon to see how close I came to the true recipe.

Want to experience South Carolina for yourself? Then Teresa recommends ...

My husband and I had an epic vacation in the Carolinas. I loved biking along the hilly circuitous roads north of Greenville. The heat and humidity were no joke, but the beautiful forests made it all worth it. For those stuck at home, “Bastard of Carolina” by Dorothy Allison is a challenging but unforgettable book. I also loved “The Secret Lives of Bees” by Sue Monk Kidd.

Time for the whole truth

Frogmore Stew is also called Low Country Boil and has never contained frogs or qualified as a stew. Instead, a pot of boiled corn, potatoes, sausage, and shrimp is usually dumped onto a table and party guests eat with their hands.

(By the way, you can click on any of the 2 truths and a lie statements to visit the source of the trivia)

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