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There’s More to Calabash than Seafood: Activities to Enjoy
If there is one thing most people know about the small town of Calabash, it's that it is a great place to eat seafood. However, despite its fame for seafood, there are plenty of other things to do in Calabash besides eating. Take a look around the town and you’ll find quaint gift shops and historic buildings to poke around. Venture out of the town and the lush countryside opens up, offering great places for picnics or walks. Sure, the ocean plays a big part in the day to day lives of people living here, but it is not the be all and end all of this pretty little fishing town. If deep-sea fishing, wildlife spotting, golfing, and luxury pampering take your fancy, keep reading to find out more about the great activities to enjoy while visiting Calabash.
The High Seas: Deep-sea Fishing and Wildlife Spotting Cruises
Calabash is a fishing town through and through, and that is probably why it has been nicknamed the ‘Seafood Capital of the World.’ However, you don’t just have to sit down and eat to sample the delicious seafood available in the town, you can get out there and catch it yourself! A number of companies operate deep-sea fishing trips out of Calabash, with the Hurricane Fleet being one of the best. They offer exhilarating trips that you will feel completely safe on, and do have sufficient insurance cover in case of an emergency situation. While fishing is a relatively safe sport, it is important to stay safe while at sea. Being on a boat in the ocean does carry a certain element of risk so making sure you have comprehensive personal cover against any accidents is advised. Often big fish can be hauled out of the water off of Calabash, with anything from Sea bass to fully grown sharks being hooked! Make sure you bring a jumper as it can sometimes get quite chilly out on deck, and don’t forget your nerves of steel!
If something more educational is more your thing, then Hurricane Fleet also does EcoTours, where they take you out onto the ocean to spots where the best marine wildlife can be spotted. Dolphins are always a favorite and many can be seen, and on top of that the crew shares their knowledge about the delicate ocean ecology. You will get to see up close and personal such things as star fish, crabs, sea urchins, and all sorts of other marine life that gets caught up in the fishermen’s nest and released back into the sea.
Tee Off: Where to Golf
If Calabash was not renowned for its seafood, then it would probably get a name for itself from all the golf courses that are here. For such a small town it has more golf courses than you would think, and some great ones at that. The Brunswick Plantation & Golf Resort is one of the favorites in the area, with three separate 9-hole courses, a clubhouse with a bar and grill, and even an indoor and outdoor pool. You can stay in the accommodation here to help you get the most golfing out of your stay. Another great course is the Crow Creek Golf Course, which is always well-kept and maintained. The 18-hole course here was created by architect Rick Robbins, who was at one time a Jack Nicklaus design associate. If you get a chance, make sure you play at this hidden treasure of Calabash. Other notable golf courses in and around the town include The Pearl Golf Links, Meadowlands Golf Club, Carolina Shores Golf & Country Club, and Farmstead Golf Links, so you really are spoilt for choice when it comes to golfing in Calabash!
Pamper Yourself: Relax at a Spa
If you need to unwind and kick back after an energetic day out fishing or golfing, then what could be better than dropping into a spa to rejuvenate? At the Sacred Willow Spa you can do just that. It is a tucked away oasis where relaxation and rejuvenation are served in the form of massages and beauty treatments. With professional massage therapists and beauty therapists on hand to pamper visitors arriving at this cozy establishment, whether you want a neck rub or a facial it is all available here. They also have many treatments that can help with ailments like back pain and arthritis, and natural healing is a big part of their ethos.
Take Your Pick!
A trip to Calabash is not just about the seafood, as you can see there is plenty to do here besides tasting all the delights that come from the ocean. So next time you visit, try something different, we’re sure you’ll be pleasantly surprised!
Calabash: Seafood Capital Of The World
On North Carolina's southern coast is Calabash, the picturesque one-time fishing village that modestly calls itself the "Seafood Capital of the World." This tiny port shaded by large oaks has become synonymous with a style of cooking that involves corn meal battering and frying.Hush puppies accompany every meal. They are made from cornmeal, flour, eggs and sugar, and maybe some chopped onion and sweet milk. Dropped into hot fat and fried to a golden brown, they often reach the table before your chair is warm.
Calabash, an Indian word for a type of gourd, has about one seafood restaurant per 10 residents. Arguments often ensue over who opened the first "fish camp" there: the Becks or the Colemans. In the 30s, both families already were holding outdoor oyster roasts. Both had moved inside by 1940 and had added the now-famous fried seafood to their repertoire.
A frequent diner at Coleman's during this era was entertainer Jimmy Durante. Lucy Coleman remembers he always jokingly called her Mrs. Calabash. Durante later began closing his shows by saying, "Goodnight, Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are."
The town's fame increased locally, and other restaurants opened to meet the increasing demand. By the 1960s, large crowds from nearby Myrtle Beach were flowing into the small community nightly to get a taste of Calabash.
Then, Calabash attracted national attention and restaurants across the South began advertising their Calabash-style seafood.
Calabash's original fish camp aesthetic is gone. Brightly lighted signs on newer restaurants with toney dishes like shrimp and linguini with wasabi ginger sauce have forever changed the town's character. Commercial development aside, the food is still great. And, pioneering restaurants like Beck's and Coleman's still serve up the Calabash-style seafood that earned the town its fame.
WHERE DID CALABASH COME FROM?
Calabash is a part of a 48,000-acre grant made to Landgrave Thomas Smith in 1691. Originally the area was considered to be part of Little River and until 1735 it was considered to be part of South Carolina. Early settlers to the area arrived from New England and Charleston, SC. One of the settlers, Nicholas Frink came to the area around 1735 and his grandson, Samuel Frink, became a major plantation owner.
The “Boundary House”, with the provinces line running down the middle, existed prior to 1750. It was built by twenty-four gentlemen, twelve from each province as a place of rendezvous for travelers. Another settler, Issac Marion, brother of Francis Marion, was serving a Justice of the Peace at the Boundary House, when a dispatch rider delivered the message of the “shots heard around the world”.
During the late 1700’s, the Altson family owned most of the present day Calabash at Little River Neck. In the late 1800’s the area was called Pea Landing because of growing and shipping of peanuts to Wilmington. Sometime in 1883, the village requested a post office. A requirement on the application was for a name for the proposed postoffice, Calabash was selected.
Around 1890, Samuel Thomas purchased “Hickory Hall Plantation”, which was later passed on to the Thomas family. Their descendents presently live in Calabash.
Sometime in the late 40’s and 50’s, Calabash became known for its seafood and was named “Seafood Capital of the World”. Today Calabash is surrounded by 6 beautiful golf courses along with a number of quaint shopping areas.
Calabash was incorporated in 1973 and in 1989 consolidated Carolina Shores Village into the town. However in 1998, the Town of Calabash voted for the removal of Carolina Shores from the corporate limits of the town. In 2002, Calabash almost doubled the town’s area and its population. Two major subdivision is under construction along with various town enhancements and beautification projects.
Calabash is no longer the sleepy little fishing village, but it still retains much of its fishing village atmosphere. The family seafood restaurants of old are now run by many of their descendents. Calabash is an outstanding place to visit, dine, and to live and work.
What’s a Calabash?
Some say it all started in the 1930’s in a sleepy little fishing village nestled between inlets and marshes, just over the North Carolina border. Fishermen brought in their catch and were met by the locals to see what as caught and what they could buy. Calabash quickly became known for its fine quality of fresh shrimp and fish.
The fishing crews were fed under the trees, and the aromatic smell of fresh fish cooking in big pots, prompted residents to buy any left over cooked seafood.
Clinton Morse, a local businessman, began serving up tubs of deep-fired seafood that had been dipped in a light seasoned batter, cooked golden brown and served very hot. “Calabash style” seafood was born – conjuring up his recipe with the image of massive quantities and varieties of seafood. These open air picnics were the beginning of a number of area restaurants that are still serving quality seafood fresh off the docks.
WHAT ARE SHRIMP?
This delicious CRUSTACEAN is America's favorite SHELLFISH. Most of the shrimp in the United States comes from bordering waters, notably the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and the Gulf Coast. There are hundreds of shrimp species, most of which can be divided into two broad classifications — warm-water shrimp and cold-water shrimp. As a broad and general rule, the colder the water, the smaller and more succulent the shrimp. Shrimp come in all manner of colors including reddish- to light brown, pink, deep red, grayish-white, yellow, gray-green and dark green. Some have color striations or mottling on their shells. Because of a heat-caused chemical change, most shrimp shells change color (such as from pale pink to bright red or from red to black) when cooked. Shrimp are marketed according to size (number per pound), but market terms vary greatly from region to region and from fish market to fish market. Keeping that variance in mind, the general size categories into which shrimp fall are: colossal (10 or less per pound), jumbo (11-15), extra-large (16-20), large (21-30), medium (31-35), small (36-45) and miniature (about 100). In the United States, jumbo and colossal shrimp are commonly called "prawns," though the PRAWN is, in fact, a different species. Though there are slight differences in texture and flavor, the different sizes (except the miniatures) can usually be substituted for each other. As a rule, the larger the shrimp, the larger the price. In general, 1 pound of whole, raw shrimp yields 1/2 to 3/4 pound of cooked meat. Shrimp are available year-round and are usually sold sans head and sometimes legs. When raw and unshelled, they're referred to as "green shrimp." Many forms of shrimp are found in the marketplace — shelled or unshelled, raw or cooked and fresh or frozen. There are also processed shrimp products such as breaded or stuffed, frozen shrimp, shrimp spread, dried shrimp and shrimp paste (the last two found in Asian markets). Raw shrimp should smell of the sea with no hint of ammonia. Cooked, shelled shrimp should look plump and succulent. Before storing fresh, uncooked shrimp, rinse them under cold, running water and drain thoroughly. Tightly cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Cooked shrimp can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Freeze shrimp for up to 3 months. Thaw in its freezer wrapping overnight in the refrigerator, or place package in cold water until defrosted. Whether or not to DEVEIN shrimp is a matter of personal preference. In general, small and medium shrimp do not need deveining except for cosmetic purposes. However, because the intestinal vein of larger shrimp contains grit, it should be removed. Shrimp can be prepared in a variety of ways including boiling, frying and grilling.
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"GOOD NIGHT, Mrs. Calabash--wherever you are!"
Jimmy Durante made this mysterious women's name his signature sign-off during the 1940s. But did she really exist?
By Ted Tyson Scarborough, Ontario
For years, Jimmy Durante ended his radio and television shows with that unusual sign-off. Most people thought the mysterious Mrs. Calabash must have been some fictional character that Durante dreamed up just to tease his audiences. But longtime residents of Calabash, North Carolina believe otherwise. The folks in this town will tell you she was a real person with a real name--and a fascinating story to boot. They claim that Mrs. Calabash was really a local woman named Lucille "Lucy" Coleman.
In 1940, Lucy was 28 years old and running a restaurant in Calabash, then a tiny seaside community bordering South Carolina. Durante and his touring entertainment troupe are said to have stopped in for supper one night. It may have been the genuine homespun friendliness of the young restaurant owner that prompted the gregarious Jimmy Durante to beckon Lucy over to his table for some short chitchat. "I'm going to make you famous," vowed Durante, thinking she recognized his well-known face. (In fact, at that moment, she didn't even know who he was!) Lucy's daughter, Clarice Holden, says she will never forget what happened next.
SECRET SIGN OFF
"As Mr. Durante and his group were walking out the door after their meal," Clarice recalls,"he turned to my mom and said, “Good night Mrs. Calabash.”
It wasn't long afterward that this popular entertainer began signing off his radio shows with a similar message. For years, audiences enjoyed this rather lighthearted farewell mystery. By the time of Durante's death in 1980, it had become one of his trademarks, almost as recognizable as his big "schnozzola". But while that sign-off may have remained a mystery to most folks, Calabash residents believe it was Durante's way of saying to Mrs. Coleman, "Hi, Lucy--I remember you, if you're still out there now."
Lucy Coleman passed away in 1989, nearly 50 years after her meeting with Jimmy Durante. Calabash residents note that Lucy recognized the significance of Durante's little secret message but preferred to stay out of the limelight. She had no desire to claim credit as the real "Mrs. Calabash." "Mom was a very private person," recalls Clarice, "She didn't speak much about her 'Mrs. Calabash' entity, and declined all interviews and all invitations to appear on television."
Apparently, Durante's popularity was so great that he could immortalize a prim Southern restaurant keeper. But neither he nor anyone else could get her to talk.
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