To say Southern Living is a familiar fixture in South Carolina homes is like saying Grandma made good pecan pie - both generalizations that skim the surface of a deeper influence. Much deeper. Truth be told, eating Grandma's pie (with South Carolina pecans, of course) was a religious experience that enriched lives and inspired greatness, thereby earning a place of honor in the annals of family history.
The same can be said for Southern Living, which has been filling South Carolina mailboxes and magazine racks for five decades. Not only has the publication shone a light on the richness of Southern culture, it continues to instill pride while inspiring us to put our best cooking, gardening, entertaining, and decorating foot forward. Like our grandparents and parents before us, we fan out copies across our coffee tables, tuck torn pages into file boxes (where do you think Grandma got that amazing pecan pie recipe?), and retrieve each new issue from the mailbox with all the giddiness of a kid discovering a treasure map.
Of course, now we are just as likely to be saving pages of Southern Living to our "Bookmark" list of Internet favorites. Times have changed, but our fondness for an old friend has not. From the Midlands to the Pee Dee to the Grand Strand, Lowcountry, Thoroughbred Country, Upstate and all places in-between, South Carolina congratulates Southern Living on its 50th anniversary. Editor-in-Chief Sid Evans, who lived in the Charleston area during his time with Garden & Gun, recently shared his thoughts about the Palmetto State as well as ways in which South Carolina has been influential to the magazine.
Q: You once called South Carolina home. What surprised you most about life in South Carolina when you first moved here?
Evans: I found the state to be full of secrets, in the best way. Whether it was a restaurant, a small town, a barbecue joint, a beach or a beautiful old church, there was always something new to discover.
Q: In what ways did life in South Carolina deepen your appreciation for Southern life?
Evans: It made me appreciate our history more, including my own. Turns out I had relatives who lived in South Carolina all the way back to the Revolutionary War.
Q: How has South Carolina contributed to Southern Living's mission to reflect the best of life in the South?
Evans: The state is always renewing and reinventing itself, so when we're looking to cover the best of the South, there's always a story here.
Q: You once said Charleston is the "Paris of the South." What is it about the city that makes it so?
Evans: Well for one thing you have all the French Huguenots who've lived there for generations. But I was really talking about how the city is so walkable, so layered, so sophisticated, so social. Like Paris, Charleston has all the energy and excitement of a city but the intimacy and beauty of a small town.
Q: What plant commonly found in South Carolina yards and gardens is your favorite and why?
Evans: I'm not very original by saying this, but I love camellias.
Q: What would you consider South Carolina's most unique treasure?
Evans: There are so many, but I'd have to say the ACE Basin.
Q: We know you love Charleston, but what other South Carolina towns hold a particular charm for you?
Evans: Pawleys Island. I grew up going there and still do. One of my favorite places on Earth.
Q: What aspects of South Carolina cuisine appeal to you most?
Evans: The fresh seafood. We used to be members of Mark Marhefka's Abundant Seafood CSF (community supported fishery). You never knew what species you were going to get, but it was always fresh-caught and delicious.
Q: Do you have a favorite South Carolina dish? A favorite chef?
Evans: I don't want to pick favorites on the chef because there are so many good ones, but I love an oyster roast, and that always leads me to Bowen's Island.
Q: As you celebrate 50 years as a magazine, what would you like South Carolina readers to know about Southern Living's vision going forward?
A: We've had a long love affair with the state going back to our first issues, and we always will.