I just returned from a very fun and VERY Fattening Girlfriend Getaway to the port city of Charleston , S.C., where we joined Southern Foodways Alliance on its annual field trip. This year’s theme was “ Charleston, Citadel of the Lowcountry Culture and Cookery, which translates to “We deep-fry anything that moves and serve it to you all with some Carolina Gold rice, she-crab soup, and banana pudding! Love-your-hat -how’s-yer-mama?”

The mission of SFA’s culinary organization is to “document and celebrate the diverse food cultures of the American South. We set a common table where black and white, rich and poor — all who gather — may consider our history and our future in a spirit of reconciliation.” They offer many fascinating food events, lectures, and educational symposiums throughout the year, but the highlight is their summer field trip which always sells out, (for members-but it only costs $75.00 to join) so I’m thrilled we were able to join them. Some themes from past trips have been: Sweet Home New Orleans, Taste of Texas BBQ, and Alabama in Black & White.

Unfortunately, we stayed at the Doubletree Hotel right off of Market street (the rooms were ok- nothing special but the location is superb) which meant that after each meal we’d walk to our hotel via Market Street (the main shopping drag) which meant passing numerous candy shops — all which offered free samples of pralines, pecan turtles, fudge, peanut brittle, and other sugar-rush delights. Our hands-out… I mean hands-down favorite.. was Market Street Sweets, (100 N. Market St., 843-722-1397) which offered the most mouth-watering, still warm-from-the-oven pralines I’ve ever wrapped my “buds” around. Thank gawd, I never found out the calorie count on these babies because by the time I left I was up to a 3–a-day habit.