Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The History of Grits

A Non-Southerner's Tale:
Back in the 70s there was a Midwesterner working near Atlanta who was first introduced to Grits, and loved retelling the story of that first meeting. He said his first morning at the hotel coffee shop he ordered eggs over easy with ham, toast and coffee. The waitress brought him his eggs and ham as ordered but he had biscuits and some funny looking white stuff he had never seen. He liked the biscuits but the white stuff was bland and strange to his taste.

He ordered the same thing next day and said the biscuits were okay but asked the waitress to leave off the "white stuff." His order came as requested but again the "white stuff" came on his plate. After several days of this, he was adamant with the waitress, a 35- or 40-year old wiry white lady that he did not want that "white stuff."

When she brought his breakfast she roughly put the plate before him with the "white stuff" again along with his order and looked him straight in the eye and said, "This 'white stuff' is called Grits and you can either learn to eat them or get your Yankee rear end back where you came from!" She turned and walked away, and he said he ate them out of fear of what would happen if he didn't comply; and he ate grits happily ever after. That rough ol' cowboy from Nebraska learned to cook and eat Grits, and probably by the end of the week, was drinking beer at night with the waitress.

What Are Grits?
Nobody knows. Some folks believe grits are grown on bushes and are harvested by midgets by shaking the bushes after spreading sheets around them. Many people feel that grits are made from ground up bits of white corn. These are obviously lies spread by Communists and terrorists. Nothing as good as a Grits can be made from corn.

The most recent research suggests that the mysterious Manna God rained down upon the Israelites during their time in the Sinai Desert was most likely Grits. Critics disagree, stating there is no record of biscuits, butter, salt and red eye gravy raining down from the sky, and God would not punish His people by forcing them to eat Grits without these key ingredients.

How Grits are Formed:
Grits are formed deep underground under intense heat and pressure. It takes over 1000 years to form a single Grit. Most of the world's grit mines are in South Carolina and Louisiana, and are watched over day and night by armed guards and pit bull dogs. Harvesting the Grit is a dangerous occupation, and many Grit miners lose their lives each year so Grits can continue to be served morning after morning for breakfast (not that having Grits for lunch and dinner is out of the question).

Yankees have attempted to create synthetic Grits. They call them Cream of Wheat. As far as we can tell, the key ingredients of this culinary atrocity are Elmer's Glue and shredded Styrofoam. These synthetic grits have been shown to cause nausea, and may leave you unable to have children.

Historical Grits:
As we mentioned earlier, the first known mention of Grits was by the Ancient Israelites in the Sinai Desert. After that, Grits were not heard from for another 1000 years. Experts feel Grits were used during this time only during secret religious ceremonies kept from the public due to its rarity. The next mention of Grits was found amidst the ruins of the ancient city of Pompeii in a woman's personal diary. The woman's name was Herculaneum Jemimaneus (Aunt Jemima to her friends.)

The 10 Commandments of Grits:
I. Thou shalt not put syrup on thy Grits
II. Thou shalt not eat thy Grits with a spoon or knife
III. Thou shalt not eat Cream of Wheat and call it Grits, for this is blasphemy
IV. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbors Grits
V. Thou shalt use only Salt, Butter and red eye gravy as toppings for thy Grits
VI. Thou shalt not eat Instant Grits
VII. Thou shalt not put ketchup on thy Grits
VIII. Thou shalt not put margarine on thy Grits
IX. Thou shalt not eat toast with thy Grits, only biscuits made from scratch
X. Thou shalt eat grits on the Sabbath for this is manna from heaven

How to Cook Grits:
For one serving: Boil 1.5 cups of water with salt and a little butter. Add 5 Tbsp of Grits. Reduce to a simmer and allow Grits to soak up all the water. When a pencil stuck into the Grits stands alone, they're done. That's all there is to cooking Grits.

How to Make Red Eye Gravy:
Fry salt cured country ham in cast iron pan. Remove the ham when done and add coffee to the remaining drippings to form the Red Eye Gravy. Simmer for several minutes. Great on Grits and biscuits.

How to Eat Grits:
Immediately after removing your grits from the stove top, add a generous portion of butter or red eye gravy. (WARNING: Do NOT use low-fat butter.) The butter should cause the Grits to turn a wondrous shade of yellow. Hold a banana or a yellow rain slicker next to your Grits; if the colors match, you have the correct amount of butter. In lieu of butter, pour a generous helping of red eye gravy on your Grits. Be sure to pour enough to have some left for sopping up with your biscuits. Never, ever substitute canned or store bought biscuits for the real thing because they cause cancer, rotten teeth and impotence. Next, add salt. (NOTICE: The correct ration of Grits to Salt is 10:1 Therefore for every 10 Grits, you should have 1 grain of salt.)

Now begin eating your Grits. Always use a fork, never a spoon, to eat Grits. Your Grits should be thick enough so they do not run through the tines of the fork. The correct beverage to serve with Grits is coffee. Your Grits should never be eaten in a bowl because Yankees will think it's Cream of Wheat.

Ways to Eat Leftover Grits:
(Leftover grits are extremely rare.) Spread them in the bottom of a casserole dish. Cover and place them in the refrigerator overnight. The Grits will congeal into a gelatinous mass. Next morning, slice the Grits into squares. Fry them in 1/2" of cooking oil and butter until they turn a golden brown. Many people are tempted to pour syrup onto Grits served this way. This is, of course, unacceptable!
Next week's recipe? Maybe I'll share the secret Garlic Grits instructions with ya! Oh, and on the subject, did ya know GRITS stands for Girls Raised in the South? Yep, I'm one of 'em.

My friend Yvonne, a southerner transplanted to California, kindly sent along this historical information, so we all have her to thank! She is one person I'd never tell to, "Kiss mah gree-uts." :O)


Anonymous said...

Finally a subject that not only has good taste, but tastes good too. I know instant grits are not the best, but in camp on a cool morning, they are hard to beat. Sausage and or bacon along with biscuits get the day started. Oh yeah, coffee is required.

Robin @ Be Still and Know said...

Grits, love em!!! You forgot to mention the 11th & 12 commandment. Thou shall add shrimp to your grits.
Thou shall add cheese to your grits!

I have a great recipe for shrimp & grits with garlic,bacon and cheese. It is heaven on a plate!


Debbie said...

You mean there are people who don't eat grits? Who are these crazy folks?

Ang said...

Lovin' the Cheesy Shrimp Grits. I am ashamed to say that I eat my grits with sugar and butter...and I'm a southern gal all the way. OOPS! the blog and so informative. Thanks Angie.

Embee said...

I've never experienced grits (other than the Cream of Wheat variety). I've never been south of the Mason/Dixon line and us Yanks, well, we just don't understand some of that southern food. There's just no splainin' okra and collard greens...!

cara said...

I knew grits must be from from heaven, I just knew it! I have to confess that I did not discuss grits with my husband before marriage and have come to find out that he won't eat grits... some bad memory of a grandmother and hominy is all he will tell, once a month or so we must have a long grits discussion...I have promised when he is old and in the nursing home I will feed him the grits goodness and he won't be able to fight back!

Janna Qualman said...

Wow. And there's everything I ever needed to know about grits. ;)

donnap said...

I love grits, I'm from southeast Louisiana, but I have to have sugar on my grits. Don't hate me!! LOL!

Jessica said...

I first heard of grits in seventh grade. We visited my mom's boyfriend's family in Florida. I thought grits were nasty and still do. LOL Love the story about the waitress. Southerners really have it in for Yankees. I learned that in seventh grade too.

Angie Ledbetter said...

Makes me wish I was at Camp Avondale right now, Oren!

Robin, might I purchase that recipe from you? LOL. *drool*

Debbie, they live on Mars, in Siberia and way up Nawth in the USofA. LOL

That's okay, Ang. The "no sugar" rule is for strict/authentic epicurians only. (My dad puts jelly, and sometimes mixes the fried eggs into the grits. eww)

Embee, you just don't know what you're missing!

LOL, Cara. Poor hubby is culinarily deprived. I don't "do" hominy either. That is pig slop. Grits are a whole nother glorious thing. But I'm sure you've tried to explain that to him already.

For real, Janna.

Donnap, we'll let ya slide. I know lots of people who like their grits sweet. :)

Aww, Jessica, I'm sorry to hear you had a bad experience. Some Southerners still carry around their grievances over the "War of Northern Agression." LOL

Jane! said...

Um.... okay. My Hawaiian friends say the same thing about poi, which is basically wall paper paste, but I guess everyone got theirs.
Good information tho - I had no idea about the grit mines! ;0P

giddymomof6 said...

LOLOL! I LOVE the Grit mines! hahahah! That's so funny. I never thought I'd like grits when I first saw them, but they're good! Really good! Hmm.. and now you're making me crave homemade biscuits! Jenni

jill said...

fantastic read. i was raised on grits and cannot understand folks who don't like them. sometimes, on special occasions, a little brown sugar may be added. really -- i wouldn't lie to you.

Angie Ledbetter said...

Jane, I watched a Food Network show on islanders making poi, and I could almost smell the stank through the tv! No thank you. Ever.

Do y'all have grits over yonder in England, Jenni? :)

Jill, I'll have to pass on that recipe tip to my Dad, the sweet grits lover.

Helen Ginger said...

Oh, my Lord, that was funny. Bless that waitresses pea-pickin' heart.

I love grits. With butter, of course. And cheese is good, too.

Helen Ginger

Melissa Marsh said...

Haha. I always remember grits from the My Cousin Vinnie movie when he asked the guy on the witness stand how he liked his grits.

Angie Ledbetter said...

LOL, Helen. Said like a true southern belle.

Melissa, I need to watch that movie again. Been too long. I mostly remember Devito's court speech on "today's youts." :)

Terri Tiffany said...

I loved this story!! I live in the south but can't quite like grits yet but my daughter who now lives in Seattle had me buy her some when she was here last month cause they don't have the "good" kind there!

JyLnC said...

I was raised in Nebraska and have a similar story about a Yankee and grits. My mom and dad visited Louisiana when I was about six and my mom returned all excited about Grits. She made some for dinner and her three children declared them tasteless and boring. I never, ever tried them again but I have always loved Cream of Wheat with milk and sugar.

Fast forward to adulthood. There was a restaurant chain that arrived in the Chicago suburbs several years ago called, The Cracker Barrel. They had grits and one day, in memory of my Mother, I tried some but I sprinkled sugar on them. They tasted almost as good as Cream of Wheat.

I order them occasionally and I am thankful as a Yankee I don't have to follow the rules.
I happily sprinkle on the sugar and enjoy.

Hilary said...

I've never had grits but have always wanted to try them. Cream of Wheat just doesn't do it, eh?

blueviolet said...

My hubby and I just discussed this. I told him that cream of wheat was basically like grits and he about snapped my head off. "It is NOTHING like grits. Don't even try it." Sheesh. You southerners are touchy 'bout those grits.

jsevenup said...


I'm revamping my blog and found yours to be very readable! Funny stuff :)...

Jenn Johansson said...

Don't kill me when I say... I've never had grits. LOL But, I love the 10 commandments of grits! So funny!

Angie Ledbetter said...

Terri, you've raised a very wise daughter! LOL

Well, at least you're now eating grits, JyLnC. Better late than never! :)

Hilary, you're talking ground meat to filet mignon here. (I'll be glad to send you some!)

Please hug hubby for me, blue. He is absolutely right. LOL PS....Have y'all noticed the initials for Cream of Wheat are COW? I don't think that's a coincidence. hehe

jsevenup, I visited your spot. I hope you'll come back and let us know when you're through with the blogovations. Thanks for dropping in!

I'll make you the same offer as Hilary, Jenn -- I'll be glad to mail ya some! :)

Hilary said...

That would be very cool, Angie! I think I'll gratefully accept your kind offer. TheSmittenImage at gmail dot com will get you my mailing details when you like. Thank you. :)

Seeker said...

That has to be one of the funniest things i have ever read. Red wine was spewed on my monitor during reading of this post....

Great Post and Great Blog ...I am a follower now

jinksy said...

I thought 'true grit' was what kept Brits upper lips stiff... x

kimmi said...

Angie, this was a great post!! I love grits, just plain and what we call it around here, salt, pepper n' butter. I;m okay with cream of wheat, yuck to the rest such as oatmeal. : D

Angie Ledbetter said...

Hilary, I emailed you for your address. :)

Thanks so much, Seeker! (I'm following at your place too.)

Well, Jinksy, now ya know the real deal. LOL

Dat's my southern GRITS gal, kimmi!

The Things We Carried said...

I do love grits, though I am a Yankee!

Suldog said...

I'm one of those rare northerners who fell in love with grits the first time I had them. Can't get them too many places up here, though, so I'm grits-deprived :-(

Angie Ledbetter said...

The Things, I'm glad you're a convert! *grin*

Aww, Sul, I hate to hear it, but glad you can find them if you're really having a craving.

Deb Shucka said...

Can you deep fry them?

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