March 28, 2003

GRITS: Nobody Can Eat Just One

We had an emergency last night. The 'nothing was taken out to thaw and we were both fresh out of creative food ideas' kind of emergency. Our crisis meal is typically based on the incredible edible ovum. Tonight, with link sausage, and grits.

You know, I guess I never stopped to ponder that nature and origin of grits, even though as a bamaboy I've eaten my share of 'em. Some of you will have to confess that you've never had the priviledge, bless ya li'l hearts. Well let me tell you what you've missed: grits taste like, well, they taste like... whatever you put on them. Grits are a mere substrate to hold butter, cheese, that sort of thing, having no flavor of their own to speak of. I eat grits because it's a part of my suthun upbringing, but I can't say I really like them as much as the butter and cinnamon we put on them when grits are (is?) pretending to be a quasi-desert. But just what is a 'grit'?

Grits is (are?) a corn product. Take hard corn (field corn called flint or dent corn), strip it from the cob, soak it in baking soda, lime or wood ash. (Here's how to do it, I know you'll want to make your own!) The kernels swell up double or triple-size, creating a form of corn called hominy (which is another tasteless lumpy thing we ate grudgingly as children in my family). Dry the hominy kernels, remove the germ, grind the product into a coarse meal. And you got grits.

And below is very interesting piece of food history about the strange making of hominy. You have to marvel at the things man has done to produce and improve food through the years:

It's interesting that the alkaline soaking process also unbinds necessary niacin in the corn, and has an effect on the protein balance. Though the overall available protein is decreased, the relative availability of the lysine and tryptophan are increased. The alkaline process has been used for centuries where corn was a native food, but in areas where corn was introduced as a new staple, the process was not. Pellagra, a niacin and tryptophan deficiency, became common disease in areas where corn was the main source of food, as in the early South. One has to wonder how ancient civilizations discovered the process which made corn a more balanced source of nutrition.

And I know you'll want to make plans to attend the Gritfest in Warwick, Georgia on April 12, where they will celebrate the recent passage of a new law which states that "Grits are recognized as the official prepared food of the State of Georgia." And of course they will sing the official National Grits Festival song written by a five-year-old boy. (see Jimmy Carter standing with his hand over his heart during the Grits Anthem... brings a lump to your throat, don't it? In the South we do take our food most seriously.

Posted by fred1st at March 28, 2003 05:38 AM | TrackBack

Funny, I grew up in Ohio... and always loved grits. And hominy, for that matter. I think it's the Eastern European "starch is sacred" genetics kicking in.

Posted by: hanne at March 28, 2003 07:55 AM

Grits may be tasteless, but polenta has a nice corn taste of its own, plus you can make it in the microwave!

Posted by: Anita Rowland at March 28, 2003 10:10 AM

Microwave polenta recipe

Posted by: Anita Rowland at March 28, 2003 10:12 AM

I love grits! I first encountered them in the late 70s on my first trip to the South. I asked what they were made from, and was told "hominy". I asked what hominy was, and was told "hominy's hominy!", a self-evident answer if ever there was one.

Butter, salt and pepper. Grits. Yum.

Posted by: Jane at March 28, 2003 11:32 AM

Soup to grits. A food friday wherever i go. Just popping in to send warm fuzzies. Too corny?

Posted by: Anne at March 28, 2003 11:57 AM

Corny? I'll give you corny...Fred has True Grits!

Posted by: peggy at March 28, 2003 11:59 AM

>Our crisis meal is typically based on the >incredible edible ovum. Tonight, with link >sausage, and grits.

At our house tonight it's Kielbasa, whole pickling onions and a head of white cabbage quartered...boiled up with a spoonful of pickling spices and enjoyed w/ butter and grainy mustard...takes 20 minutes.

Posted by: feste at March 31, 2003 08:42 PM

Hi! been eating grits since I knew how to lift a spoon, just did'nt know (or want to know)where they came from until I overheard someone say they came from the cob of corn, I guess you know that one threw me for a loop. Glad to know I could find out quick. Now let's go eat some grits. (I can't wait to tell my kids this one). Tahnks Jina

Posted by: jina davis at November 14, 2003 02:04 PM

As a miller in an 1860's grist mill i have learned through experience and reserch that grits are a course ground corn meal that will keep longer during the summer months when refridgeration was not available...Folks living in mountain areas are less likley to depend on a course ground meal as they had a cooler climate and access to cold mt streams and spring houses. In the good old days life focused on getting food and keeping it. There was a reason for most things in the old days, today its more a matter of tradition and taste.

Posted by: gary at July 19, 2004 08:37 PM

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