Wednesday, April 25, 2012

"What's a Grit?"*

Back in the summer of 2010, my book club read Kathryn Stockett's novel The Help, and we held our discussion meeting at Tupelo in Cambridge. At that meeting, I had my first taste of grits (along with some amazing chicken and waffles and Southern sweet tea!) Someone ordered grits for the table, and I felt obligated to try them in an attempt at Southern authenticity. (The only thing I really knew about grits was that Flo on TV's "Alice" used to tell people off by telling them to kiss hers!)
Paula Deen's version of shrimp and grits
Uneasily putting that first spoonful into my mouth, the taste was surprising and delightful. Where I had expected something bland and grainy, there was heavenly, mushy, buttery goodness.  With my second spoonful greedily in my mouth I asked, "What are grits again?" To the amusement of my fellow book clubbers, I ended up finishing off the bowl. Turns out, grits are a corn meal porridge. What's not to love about that, right? Right.

This year, I drove back north from Florida, and, for the first time in my life, I got to visit a number of towns in the South (as opposed to having layovers in the Charlotte or Atlanta airports). Stops were made in: Jekyll Island, GA; Savannah, GA; Beaufort, SC; Charleston, SC; and Williamsburg, VA. I ordered shrimp and grits (a popular combination) at a number of restaurants along the way; some places served it traditionally (more soupy), while other places served it more firm, so that it was almost like a polenta.  My favorite version of the dish was at 82 Queen in Charleston. I had the seared shrimp and scallops over stone ground grits with sauce Newburg, which was positively AMAZING. (I highly recommend dining out at 82 Queen if you are in Charleston. They also have really wonderful she-crab soup.) I don't know if I would ever try cooking grits myself, but I can guarantee that I will be ordering them at Southern style restaurants in the future!!(But if you do make grits regularly and want to make a suggestion for a brand to try at home and/or a recipe in the comments, I would be glad to have that info.)

*the classic line from My Cousin Vinny


  1. Mark and I are giggling over the first sentence of the second paragraph. It sounds like code.

    1. I suppose I could have referred to them as "moist" and just blown up the whole thing right there...

  2. Anson Mills grits are a cut above the rest, though more "artisanal" than the kinda bland stuff everyday working-class Southerners make at their stovetop.



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