The Historic Charleston City Market has an interesting story as well as an interesting entrance: the Daughters of the Confederacy Museum. Sweet grass basket makers set up their stands right at the entrance. I asked one of the basket makers about the African American history of the market. Apparently, prior to Emancipation, enslaved Africans sold their home grown produce and crafts in this long brick building, earning money for themselves. This is separate from the Old Slave Market where people were auctioned until 1863. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to visit.
Earlier this year someone told me the art of making sweet grass baskets was dying out because the next generation had no interest in the craft. Well, after talking to a few people here, that’s not true, yet the threat still looms not because of the lack of interest, but the lack of materials. Real estate development is rolling over the lands that produce the sweet grass. Sweet grass is primarily gathered at no expense to the basket maker. Granted, these baskets sell for hundreds of $$$ and more today, but the time involved in the making limits the inventory. Perhaps the green movement and environmentalists can step in to keep the sweet grass growing. For me, I’m relieved there’s no threat for lack of interest.
For the culinary portion of this visit, read the blog at eatonvillerestaurant.com/blog.