One of the things that I get asked fairly often is, “How can you eat grits?” More often than not, it’s Richard, asking after I’ve snuggled into the couch with a bowl of cheese grits on a weekday night when I’ve had an intense craving for comfort food. Other times, though, it’s people that are actually from Texas — people that I expect not only to enjoy but to celebrate grits — but who are either repulsed by grits or simply unfamiliar with them. These people confuse me.
Grits were an integral part of my childhood and they remain a huge part of my cultural identity. My mother would make grits for me on cold mornings before I headed off to the bus stop for school. They will stick with a child’s stomach all day, making lunchtime a mere social gathering as food isn’t yet a necessity. I remember her serving them to me on our old, wooden breakfast table with a huge pat of butter and some cream poured on top. I would slowly swirl the grits until all of the ingredients were emulsified into the warm, creamy breakfast cereal and then gulp it down with relish.
Every church potluck included at least three different types of grits dishes: regular grits, grits with sausage, grits with shrimp, grits with cheese, runny grits, thick grits, etc. In fact, it’s a running joke that you can’t have a Church of Christ potluck without grits.
When we did a holiday buffet in middle school, I insisted on bringing cheese grits, much to the chagrin of my mostly foreign schoolmates. No one except my English teacher, a down-home Southern belle, touched them. But she and I ate nearly the entire dish.
And as an adult, when it’s my turn to bring breakfast for our breakfast club at The Day Job, I always bring grits. I consider it my mission in life to turn as many people onto grits as possible. I’m pleased to report that I’m doing much better these days than my failed attempt in middle school.
Why grits? Why eat something that has the visual consistency of wallpaper glue (as Richard so lovingly puts it)? Why do I have such strong feelings for what is, essentially, corn porridge? Continue reading On Grits