Hog Heaven

I knew that South Carolina’s Lowcountry cooking is famously pork-laden, but when I was photographing the establishments in this issue’s feature on Charleston soul food (“Specialty of the House,”), I was nevertheless amazed to see so much pig, and so many parts of it. For me, Murray’s Links & Sausages north of downtown Charleston was a sort of Rosetta stone to the local food culture. The family-run butcher and grocer has been supplying home cooks and restaurants alike with cured and fresh pork and other soul food staples for more than 50 years. When I visited one Saturday, owner Ernest Murray Sr. (pictured, with his famous pork sausages, known as links) was packing hefty parcels of hocks, necks, feet, tails, and more. One woman came in and ordered rice pudding—not a dessert, but a terrinelike sausage of pork liver and rice suspended in pork gelatin that seemed like a relative of Cajun boudin blanc. I wondered how she’d serve it and asked, “You eat it just like that?” With a broad smile, she answered, “Every day.” To place an order at Murray’s, call 843/579-2836.