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Calabash

If you've vacationed in the Carolinas before, you may have heard on occasion the term 'Calabash-Style seafood.' Most returning vacationers will know exactly what this means while first time visitors to the area may wonder 'What is Calabash-Style' and for that matter, 'What is Calabash?'

Calabash is not a what. It's actually a where, a small fishing town located in Brunswick County North Carolina less than a mile away from the South Carolina state line. The town proudly displays a welcome sign that proclaims itself the 'Seafood Capital of the World' due to the being the birthplace of 'Calabash-Style' seafood. Before delving into the origination of this special style of seafood, it's always good to know a bit more about the town that gave this style its namesake.

Calabash's origins go back as early as the late 1600s, when landowners populated the area growing indigo and other crops that are recognizable to Calabash today. Bordering the town is the Calabash River, which back then was known as the northeast branch of Little River. The earliest instance of the town being known as Calabash was in 1814 with a land survey showing the river named Callebash River. Stories claim the town got its name from the calabash gourd; a somewhat large, peanut-shaped fruit that was used for food or that could be dried and used as a bottle. There's no concrete proof exactly how the name Calabash came about but in 1883, the town formerly known as Pea Landing officially became known as Calabash after the townsfolk petitioned to have their very own post office.

With the town bordering the Calabash River which in turn connects to the Intracoastal Waterway and eventually the Atlantic Ocean, it's no small wonder that fishing became one of the most productive industries of the area. During the years surround World War II, many restaurants and fish camps began popping up all over town and served fresh seafood cooked and fried with a special flavor. This was the birth of 'Calabash-Style Seafood.' A few years later, Calabash would come to be known as the 'Seafood Capital of the World.' Simply put, Calabash-Style seafood is lightly breaded with corn meal instead of flour, giving the fried seafood a lighter coating. It's typically served buffet style and is always accompanied with hushpuppies. Today, Calabash-Style seafood can be found all over the Carolinas but the town of Calabash will always carry the honor of being the birthplace of this famous cooking style.

In addition to many great restaurants, Calabash is a popular tourist area visited by thousands of vacationers each year. Many shops and local golf courses are available and many visitors enjoy touring the waterfront to get a great view of the river and the fishing boats sailing in and out of their docking stations. Calabash is conveniently located just over the state line of South Carolina and is located about 10 minutes north of North Myrtle Beach and about 20-25 minutes north of Myrtle Beach. The nearby town of Sunset Beach is just 6 miles north of Calabash, with Ocean Isle Beach just a few miles further north. Vacationers coming to Bald Head Island this year should definitely not miss this little jewel of a town.

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