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“A” is for Atzjar

“A” is for Atzjar (or achar). A bright ochre mixed pickle, this recipe is one of the world’s oldest, and its path to South Carolina was along the international spice and slave trade routes. Originating in Java, where each district has its own version, recipes for achar traveled through Asia to India, where the term is generic for both oil and brine pickles; to Madagascar, where pickled mangos were prized; to South Africa, where the Dutch imported Malaysian slaves; up the west coast of Africa, whence came South Carolina rice plantation slaves; and directly to Charleston. Harriott Pinckney Horry recorded her “Ats Jaar Pickle” in her colonial cookbook about 1770. Atzjar pickle—made with turmeric, garlic, and other spices--is a typical dish of the traditional lowcountry kitchen, and it accompanies the area’s unique, elaborate rice dishes.

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Dr. Walter Edgar has two programs on South Carolina Public Radio: Walter Edgar's Journal, and South Carolina from A to Z. Dr. Edgar received his B.A. degree from Davidson College in 1965 and his Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina in 1969. After two years in the army (including a tour of duty in Vietnam), he returned to USC as a post-doctoral fellow of the National Archives, assigned to the Papers of Henry Laurens.