One of my fondest childhood memories is catching sight of my next-door neighbor, Mr. Gerken, on his dock on the Wilmington River in Savannah, shaking the blue claw crabs from his trap. Often I’d be tipped off to the act because I smelled the smoke from the burn barrel in his yard, a rusty fifty-five-gallon drum with the top removed and some vent holes punched near the base. I’d meet him at the barrel, and we’d stoke the fire with yard debris until it was hot enough for the pot. Then we’d add water from the river that Mr. Gerken carried in two milk jugs, and finally the crabs.
Cooking was followed by picking, which we did back out on the dock. I’d clean a couple while stealing a few bites, but mostly I just loved the tradition of it. And Mr. Gerken loved sharing it. The meat, which we piled in a Tupperware container, often ended up in a deviled crab recipe that was the envy of the neighborhood.
Mr. Gerken has been gone nearly ten years now, but I still think of him whenever my family catches a bunch of crabs from the creeks and has a feast. My son, Sam, while not keen on having any of his appendages within a couple of yards of a live crab, relishes eating them. I eat my share, but I’m mostly at the table these days for the conversation—and the cold beer. I can think of few better ways to celebrate the bounty of the Lowcountry.
Speaking of celebrations and the Lowcountry, fans of G&G will have the opportunity to join editors and artisans as we host our first-ever Made in the South Awards weekend, November 9–11, at our headquarters in Charleston, South Carolina. In true G&G fashion, we’ll kick it off with a Friday-night concert by Amanda Shires and Aaron Lee Tasjan. There will be panel discussions with contest judges and Southern makers on Saturday, along with a marketplace, and we’ll cap it off with a dinner, hosted by Atlanta chef Asha Gomez, where we’ll honor the winners of this year’s contest.
We’ve also started the Garden & Gun Society, which will not only provide members with a Southern concierge service and special offers through G&G partners, but also include an invitation to an unforgettable weekend in the Great Smoky Mountains at Blackberry Farm next summer. I doubt blue crabs will be on the menu, but I can promise the weekend will be one to savor.
Senior Vice President & Editor in Chief