10 Side Effects of Living in Savannah
1. You often forget what century it is.
Savannah is all about historic preservation — nothing too tall, nothing too modern. Antebellum structures are refurnished into restaurants and business establishments. Lanterns light “steamboat gothic” porches. Spanish moss drapes from live oak and caresses the 18th-century cobblestone streets.
And if it weren’t for the high population of skateboarding hipsters holding plastic cups of PBR and sporting nonprescription glasses, it would be easy to get swept away in a time warp to the days of birdcage dresses and salty pirates soaked in rum. Though, don’t get me wrong, there’s still a lot of rum soaking here.
2. You’re hungover more mornings than not.
George Washington once came to Savannah and ordered a Chatham Artillery Punch — a concoction of tea, lemon, brown sugar, wine, rum, brandy, gin, and whiskey. It left him so hungover, he swore never to return.
Not much has changed. We still serve the same punch at the Shrimp Factory.
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3. Your taste buds are forever spoiled from Shit Yeah! Sauce.
We’ve got Zunzi’s where you can order an Oliver’s Lunch from the guy behind the food bar. “Shit yeah!” he’ll say as he slams your plate full of creamy mashed potatoes, Italian-seasoned chicken, and smoked South African sausage, all drenched in Tzatziki dressings with a gravy known only as “Shit Yeah! Sauce.”
Or for a celebrity meal from Zunzi’s, there’s the Conquistador. This hoagie was featured as one of the final contestants on Adam Richman’s Best Sandwich in America on Man vs Food.
We’ve got the Savannah Bee Company where you can taste a free slice of green honey crisp apple topped with a slab of honeycomb and Gruyere Cheese. We’ve got creamy bowls of crab bisque laced with sherry. We’ve got plates of grits whipped with cheese, seasoned shrimp, sauteed sweet red peppers, and slices of andouille sausage moistened in a Cajun butter sauce. We’ve got rose petal ice cream from Leopold’s. We’ve got greasy pizza from Sweet Melissa’s that will sop up the night’s debauchery.
We’ve got all the ingredients needed for one to eat their way through the city. And it can be done all while avoiding Paula Deen’s restaurant — The Lady and Sons. Which brings me to my next point…
4. Paula Deen? Nope, not a fan.
No, you’ve never met her. No, you’ve never seen her. No, you don’t eat at her restaurant. Do you care to? Maybe if you’re ever craving a burned hole in your wallet from mediocre buffet food doused in melted butter served with a side of fried pig lard and an aura of looming racism.
5. You know that trying to find your way around other cities will forever suck.
Savannah was dubbed America’s first planned city. It’s not only one of the most walkable places in the country, it’s also one of the easiest to learn. When you visit, say, Atlanta, nothing throws you for a loop harder than trying to find your way around that spaghetti junction of a place.
Savannah, on the other hand, is laid out in a perfect, flat series of grids fastened together by 22 historic squares. Within two days, you’ll have the streets memorized and the layout down pat. Just remember that, when in doubt find Abercorn Street, and if you fall into the river, you’ve gone too far.
6. You’ve begun to appreciate the smell of sulphur.
Complain about the river’s pungent smell all you want. While away from Savannah, nothing takes you back to River Street faster than getting a whiff of rotten eggs.
7. You’ve become immune to paranormal activity.
There’s only a handful of people here who claim to have never encountered anything supernatural. And they’re obviously lying.
But being the second-most haunted city in America does have its perks. After you survive a late 19th-century house where doorknobs fall off for no reason, a pissed off shadow bangs around in the kitchen, random puddles of water appear out of nowhere, and an apparition cries continuously in your bedroom, it takes more than a little paranormal action to rattle your bones.
Mass graves? Psh, no big deal. Your house is probably on one right now.
This story was produced through the travel journalism programs at MatadorU.
8. It now slips your mind that drinking in public isn’t cool everywhere.
Savannah is one of only six cities in America where you can drink in public, permitting that you’re not carrying more than 16 ounces and it’s concealed in a plastic cup. You will forever be yelled at for trying to leave with a drink in your hand.
9. You think you’re Irish.
We have the biggest St. Patrick’s Day Parade in the United States. Irish flags hang proudly in the windows. We throw back Jameson shots like it’s our daily vitamin.
Yet in the entirety of calling Savannah your home, you’ve only encountered one person from Ireland. Then, after hearing about his life back in Cork and marveling in his slurred Irish accent, he admitted over a bottle of Bailey’s that he, in fact, had been born and raised in Savannah. Turns out, he didn’t actually have an accent. He was just really Catholic.
Maybe it’s the fact that we dye our fountains green in March, or because the first baby born in Savannah was born on St. Patrick’s Day. Maybe it’s due to the early 19th-century settlers from Ireland who helped build the economy with their long hours for low pay. Or maybe because we have one of the largest Catholic cathedrals in the South.
No matter the reason, when we’re all gathered in a cluster of green attire to celebrate a holiday in which we have little affiliation with, we all feel strangely connected to Irish culture. Then again, it may just be because we’re drunk and wearing a pin that says: “I’m not Irish, but kiss me anyway.”
10. You fucking love this place.
When General Sherman carried out his famous March to the Sea during the American Civil War, he was so taken with the beauty of Savannah that he offered the town to President Lincoln as a Christmas present. This ultimately saved Savannah from being burned to the ground.
And today, she’s just as beautiful as she was back then — just slightly dirtier and a whole lot sultrier.