Tag Archives: grits

34. Grits: It’s What’s for Breakfast

29 Mar

I cannot remember being introduced to grits. No Southerner can. Grits are just part of our lives, natural as breathing…or bacon. But when people learn that I’m Southern and ask if I eat grits, I can’t help rolling my eyes. On the one hand, duh. But on the other, who cares?

For the record, yes, I eat grits. But they’re really not that big a deal. No Southerner I know likes them half as much as people think we do. If there are grits connoisseurs out there, I’ve never heard of them. I’m tempted to Google and find out. But again, who cares?

College kids might make a meal out of grits when running low on Kraft Macaroni and Cheese or Top Ramen, but for the most part, they’re a side dish. A breakfast side dish at that.

Still, folks are curious about our grit-eating tendencies, so here goes:

1. Nobody eats plain grits. They are quite bland and require much doctoring to become anywhere near palatable.

2. Southerners do not add sugar to grits. I can’t really explain this because Southerners tend to have raging sweet teeth, but some things are just meant to be savory. See cornbread.

3. Cheese grits are made with American cheese. Don’t try to go fancy and use cheddar. It just doesn’t work. If you can’t bring yourself to purchase a hunk of Velveeta, Kraft singles will do in a pinch.

4. Meat isn’t mandatory (surprise!), but I’ve yet to meet a bowl of grits that couldn’t be improved with a healthy sprinkling of bacon or sausage.

5. Instant grits are just wrong. Especially the “flavored” varieties: bacon, ham and cheese, red eye gravy, etc. If you live outside the South, don’t worry, you’ll never encounter “flavored” instant grits, unless you consider “plain” a flavor.

6. If you move away from the South, make sure you have a reliable grits connection. I’ve made some valiant attempts with locally available grits, but was inevitably disappointed.

I introduced Geoff to the sub-standard grits with the caveat that they were sub-standard. He heaped some leftover chili on top of them and pronounced them “not that bad.” Yes, chili. On GRITS. Four (gritless) years later, I’m still dumbfounded.

p.s. Last night I had some cheesy grits off the “New Orleans” menu at Coastal Kitchen here in Seattle and am loathe to admit that they were quite possibly the best grits I’ve ever had. However, my Authentic Southern Food snobbery was vindicated by the fact that A. The grits were served as a DINNER side dish and B. Two portions of their attempt at pig, “Miss Em’s Pork Dinner,” went home in a doggie bag for my friend Karen’s dog.

p.s. #2 Two years later, I’m amending this to say that I have A. found a decent grits supplier in Seattle and B. successfully made grits with cheddar cheese.

What’s your favorite way to enjoy grits?

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