Carolina Gold Rice (Meleana Cabales)

Rice is a versatile food that has roots of cultural significance in various countries. Although it seems fairly straightforward, there are countless variants of rice based on grain length, starch level, color, harvest season, methods of preparation – the list is endless. Eaten primarily to accompany a main dish, ways of serving rice are associated with different places. In Thailand, sticky rice is served in coconut milk with mango slices (a favorite dessert in my family). In Spain, arroz bomba is a low-starch rice served in paella. In South America, rice and beans is a staple combination providing important nutrients. Needless to say, it’s enjoyed by people across the world.

However, the origin of rice in Colonial America can be attributed to none other than South Carolina. The grain was introduced to the New World in 1685 by means of the Columbian Exchange. West African enslaved people arriving in Charleston provided the complex agricultural technology to cultivate rice on the islands and coastal lowlands of what later became South Carolina. Carolina Gold rice, as it was known, was officially named for the rich color of the ripe crop in Autumn. Less literally, its name also references the great wealth it brought to lowcountry planters. South Carolina led the country in rice production up until the Civil War, whereafter rice was introduced to other states that could accommodate heavy machinery on their soil. South Carolina no longer grows rice as it used to, but the golden grain perseveres in the memory of longtime lowcountry families. It is remembered for its nutty taste, rich texture, and earthy aroma. Today, Carolina Gold can be ordered from Carolina Plantation Rice. 

As a self-proclaimed rice connoisseur, I could buy a bag to provide an authentic review. As a broke college student, I don’t have $20 to spare. Rice cookers are also prohibited in the dorms, which explains why I will be carrying mine to class with me during my room inspection 🙂 Please enjoy this picture of me with uncooked jasmine rice colored to resemble Carolina Gold.


The Bitter Southerner (Meleana Cabales and Beck Smith)

The Bitter Southerner is a magazine publication that was originally published on the night of August 6, 2013 and is based in Atlanta, Georgia. It all began when Chuck Reece, one of the magazine’s co-founders, and his wife spent a week in New Orleans. They experienced the many amazing qualities of the city, one of which being the bar scene and its unique barkeeps. Soon after their return home, Drinks International released their list of top 50 bars in the world and not only was there not a single bar in New Orleans on the list, but there wasn’t even a single bar in the South. Reece states that after reading this he “felt a familiar twinge of bitterness” and planned to find the South’s best barkeeps and recruited a group of designers, photographers, videographers, and many more to help him tell their stories. And that was what started it all and how Reece decided there was a far larger story to be told. The South is a mystery to everyone who doesn’t live in it, it’s an enigma to the rest of the world. This is why the magazine describes itself as having an aim to uncover the true complex American South and to begin to break widespread stereotypes about the region as a whole.

Chuck Reece – Co-Founder and current Editor of the Bitter Southerner

The magazine is currently edited by Chuck Reece, but he will soon be leaving the publication to support his wife’s business. It still has not been confirmed who will be taking his place but it could be very likely that one of his co-founders will fill his role. The Bitter Southerner is a very interesting magazine because most of its stories are written by anyone who wants to submit a story to the magazine. The website lists its writers as people with careers ranging from musicians to bakers to actual writers, but what is clear is that the magazine accepts stories from anyone with something important to say about the South. Their messages don’t even need to be written, as the magazine publishes images as well as videos, allowing for a wide range of contributors and an immersive experience.     

The Bitter Southerner’s mission is to share the South that not many outsiders know or understand. It was written for Southerners who felt misrepresented and those who were willing to see the region from a different perspective. Today, the publication is read in all 50 states and in at least 105 countries. It’s accessible to a very diverse demographic because it is a primarily online publication. Weekly articles are written for the Internet so that it may attain its goal of educating a larger population about the true stories of the South.  However, the publication also produces podcasts, videos, and folklore projects. By the end of 2013, four months after its launch, The Bitter Southerner had about 27,000 visitors to their site and 5,200 subscribers. It quickly grew in popularity and attracted many more people over the years. By the end of 2017, they reported having 700,000 website visitors (that year) and 25,000 weekly subscribers. In addition, their social media presence became more significant and every platform experienced a robust increase in followers/likes.

The Bitter Southerner is more popular than scholarly in its nature. It is written by common, everyday people from the South and intended to reach a wide, general audience. The language and rhetoric used is easy to understand and relate to. The focus of the publication is to showcase true, albeit lesser-known, stories of the South, so it is meant to have a more popular character. The Bitter Southerner is unique in the way it portrays the South. It doesn’t seek to represent the South as everyone else in the country seems to see it. The publication’s mission is to debunk myths and outline a brighter, more progressive future for the region. It is a bit more unorthodox, and maybe a bit controversial to some.

Featured image from the article “The Last Earthy Sweetness”.

The publication’s website is sleek, modern, and to-the-point. When scrolling through feature articles, you see bold and eye-capturing fonts superimposed on a striking visual. The aesthetic of the digital platform is appealing and attractive. Each post also includes supporting images that keep the article from being only text. They aim to involve the reader and keep them engaged. Featured articles include stories based on anything from food to music. A recent article, “This Last Earthy Sweetness”, discusses how to grow sorghum. It was written in second-person so that the reader can put themselves in a sorghum farmer’s shoes and see the process from their perspective. Instead of a step-by-step instructional manual, this article described typical experiences one might have if they were to raise sorghum crops. It accomplished the publication’s goal of informing others about Southern lives.

Professor James Ward (Art and Architectural History)

Dr. James Ward is a Senior Instructor at the College of Charleston’s Art and Architectural History Department, specializing in landscape architecture. He attended various schools around the country, but eventually found a unique appeal to the University of Georgia, where he obtained three degrees. He pursued a B.A. in English during his undergraduate studies. Coincidentally, he would pass the School of Environmental Design while walking to class. His curiosity was piqued by what he observed of the studio and camaraderie in the classroom, so he took an extra class in the department. It was a step out of his comfort zone, but he discovered a real interest in the field and returned to UGA twice more to earn a B.L.A and an M.L.A in Landscape Architecture.

As a consultant landscape architect, Dr. Ward has worked on numerous projects in the South. Here in the Charleston area, he has had significant roles in the development of Kiawah Island, the aquarium, the airport, and even the College of Charleston campus. He also worked on the Charleston Visitor Center, a project he really enjoyed thanks to its community planning, public participation, and urban design aspects. However, Dr. Ward’s expertise has helped more than just the South, and more than just the United States. For two years, he was the Sole Landscape Architect for the Government of Bermuda. This was a notable experience because it allowed him to be a pioneer – “to figure things out for [himself] and not live in the wake of somebody else’s expectations”. If you were to visit the capital city of Hamilton, you would drive in on the roadway he designed and see the hilly terrain, natural parks, and historic buildings outside your window. These are still standing because of Dr. Ward’s dedication to preservation and development in a way that is true to the natural landscape.

Despite studying and working in the South for a number of years, it’s hard for Dr. Ward to define himself as a Southerner. His father was from Massachusetts, his mother was from Alabama, and he was born in Texas. Because both of his parents were in the Navy, the family moved around quite a bit. Regular relocation makes it hard for anyone to identify with a certain region, but his connection to the South has been compromised for other reasons as well. His mother was from a part of Alabama that struggled in the context of race relations, so he valued his kinship with his Northern family more so than his Southern one. Still, he has spent a lot of time in the region and found it to be a good place to work. He has special sentiments for Georgia.

Currently, Dr. Ward teaches at the College of Charleston. His courses focus on Historic Preservation and Community Planning. Every experience he’s had as a landscape architect has influenced the content that he teaches in class. The projects he’s worked on and the people he’s met have all transferred to his courses in some way or another. He likes for students to get out into the local community because, like Southern studies, landscape architecture is so deeply rooted in place. In fact, “it is a landscape, and a landscape and its people cannot be separated”. What he seeks to pass on to his students is an “appreciation of the founding – to understand where we’ve gone and the changes we’ve brought”.