Monday, March 7, 2011

Baseball, Chicken Bog and Barbecue: As Lowcountry As It Gets

Baseball is a religion in South Carolina. From the recreational leagues (in our town youngsters have three options for "rec ball" ie Little League, Dixie Youth and Cal Ripken) to high school and college, hardball is the king. High schools in the lowcountry are rich with Div 01 college prospects, and college baseball is played at a very high-level in the area. At one point last year, South Carolina had 4 Div 01 teams contending for the National Championship and a trip to the College World Series which the University of South Carolina eventually won.

I love baseball season in the Lowcountry. When I refer to baseball season I am referring to the scholastic baseball season that starts in February and goes through May. Of course here in The Land Of Palm Trees baseball is played year round, except for a couple of weeks before Christmas and a couple of weeks in early January. But for me, nothing compares to the excitement of prep school baseball, young lads representing their school colors and playing for school pride. Adding to the attraction, A high-school baseball game in the Lowcountry is also an epic culinary event, a happening, a gathering. A hybrid of an athletic event along with a social event, but 100 percent a gastronomical symphony. And I am not talking popcorn, peanuts and hot-dogs, your standard ball park concession stand issue. No, I am talking about barbecue, boiled peanuts flavored with ham and cajun spices, fresh fried fish, hamburgers grilled over the open flame on machine fabricated iron grills on wheels, weighing as much as the truck that pulled it to the park and of course, chicken bog.

My blog readers from outside of South Carolina quite possibly have never heard of the dish, chicken bog. As best I can tell it is not only strictly a southern dish, but quite possibly unique to South Carolina and in particular the Lowcountry and Pee Dee Basin. To say that chicken bog is just another chicken and rice dish is like saying that a porsche is just another foreign car. Perhaps Edward D. Borden said it best in 1968 in Sandlapper magazine, "The dish looks as if the cook went on a binge the night before, but legend has it one Yankee officer liked it so much he switched uniforms. It's called Chicken Bog, and it's a conglomeration of rice spices and chicken, topped with bacon. To Pee Dee natives, the dish is as traditional on Fourth of July and other holidays as barbecue and cole slaw is to the rest of the south."

Chicken bog officianados will debate the origin for the name of the dish, some claim it refers to the way Carolina rice was grown in and around Charleston back in the 1700's in rice bogs while others claim that it is because the ingredients of sausage, chicken and rice all get bogged down together when properly cooked. One thing that can't be debated is how good the stuff tastes and how a heaping and steaming bowl of chicken bog makes a great baseball game even better. An internet search will yield several recipes and versions, it is similar to looking at recipes for chilli, everybody has their own secret formula, but the one recipe that I have found online and that I intend to experiment with can be found by clicking here.

1 comment:

  1. Well Doug; you've stumped me again. I had never heard of 'Chicken Bog'. Ya done taught me another fact regarding life in SC. Again, Your faithful student.


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