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May 14, 2010

True grits


In this week's Free Market Friday post, Robert of Cross Keys takes up that age-old question that nags many a Baltimorean: are we Southerners or Yankees? RoCK's grits supply suggests the former. But his grits consumption, not so much. Here's RoCK. LV

I try and pass myself off as a Southerner. While I have some of the attributes, ranging from a weakness for bourbon and country ham to a crazy, great-great-great-grandfather who spent the first month of the Civil War in the Tennessee Calvary and the next four years in northern POW camps, one thing marks me as a Yankee: I didn’t grow up with grits.

As a kid, I thought grits were either guys with jean jackets and feathered mullets who listened to Def Leppard and drove Camaros, or some part of Flo’s anatomy that Mel had to kiss. Later on in my childhood, during a trip to South Carolina, I saw grits on the menu for the first time. I asked my mom if I could try them. She said I wouldn’t like them, but I insisted. She was right. I was served a bowl of soupy mush that had a flavor somewhere between bad and bland.  

Many years would pass before I tried grits again, including the years that I spent living in the South attending college at Hampden-Sydney, which culturally was so Southern that it made Ole Miss feel like UMass. It was my wife, who is nonetheless from Chicago and whose ancestors were in Ukrainian shtetls at the time of the unpleasantries in the South, who got me to try grits again.  What I didn’t know as a kid was that grits, like most everything, are better with cheese.  

Now I like grits, but I’m not sure I would say that I love them. I seem to buy a lot of grits. I just never actually get around to cooking them.

Last week, as part of my ongoing effort to act Southern, I was at Stratford Hall, the birthplace of Robert E. Lee. There is a mill on the grounds of the plantation, and you can buy grits produced there at the gift shop. Well, of course I needed to buy a bag of grits from the Lee house -- even though I knew I had several bags of grits back home, as well many similar products like spoon bread and dried corn.  

While I was standing there with the bag of grits in my hand, the wife was looking at grit cookbooks. This seemed like a good complementary purchase. My increasing grit supply was overwhelming my grit recipes, which really only consists of cheesy grits and cheesy grit cakes.

Unfortunately, the wife put down the grit cookbook and instead opted to pick up a book on decorative napkin folding. I guess if we ever entertain, our guests can be seated at a table with a napkin in the shape of a boat and big bowl of cheesy grits.
For more information and photos on RoCK's trip to Stratford Hall and the Northern Neck of Virginia, check out his wife's travel write-up.

Photo courtesy of RoCK

Posted by Laura Vozzella at 10:59 AM | | Comments (17)


Shrimp & grits when properly prepared is heavenly! But, I'm a true-blue southerner!

Gift shop grits always taste better with hardware store ham.

LL, don't forget the gas station sushi!

I live and die by the savory grits at Miss Shirley's. Along with the jumbo lump crab omelet, I'm in food nirvana...D'oh....grits.....

Oh, guess what? Our hardware store ham went moldy after 6 months and we had to throw most of it out! It seemed like we ate it and ate it and ate it, but it was just about a third of it. We are not experts on bad mold or mold you can just cut off, so we threw it out.

Here is my response to the grits.

A side of plain grits with a lump of butter, salt, and pepper makes a perfect breakfast served with eggs over easy and scrapple

My wife's Shrimp & Grits are also delicious.

I have a weakness for bourbon, and a D.A.R. card, but grits were never on the menu growing up. I guess that's a straight Baltimore childhood.

A side of plain grits with a lump of butter, salt, and pepper

And a squirt or two of Tabasco sauce. Yum!

How about a couple of spoons of apple butter swirled in.

After posting my comment earlier and reading this...a well timed lunch at Crush netted some very yummy shrimp & grits with andioulle (sp) sausage & bacon.

Very yummy!

Clint Eastwood is the Only TRUE GRIT.
Name that Corn....pone.
Like the great Jim Herbert- Athens Artist said: The South is like a wet board- turn it over and explore it and you'll never know exactly WHAT you'll find.

Clint Eastwood is the Only TRUE GRIT.

Clint Eastwood wasn't in either version of True Grit. I suspect you mean John Wayne.

I love the smell of grits in the morning. It smells like...Freedom.

I'm a Southerner and the only use I have for grits is to use them for traction in the winter. Check out the movie "My Cousin Vinnie" for a funny exchange about Southerners and grits.

And a squirt or two of Tabasco sauce. Yum!

Posted by: Hal Laurent | May 14, 2010 2:06 PM

how did I forget the Tabasco?

don't forget Glen Campbell! (True Grit) and that very odd girl...

I thought Glen Campbell was the Rinestone Cowboy

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About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

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