Sunday, April 3, 2011

True Grit!

I always tell my children – you can’t say you don’t like something unless you try it. This isn’t something I adhere to myself. Some things I just know I will not like. I think food has to appeal to all of the senses – it has to smell, taste, look and feel good. If it makes a noise or causes one later it might be best avoided!
There are some exceptions to this rule! Roquefort cheese for example. It smells and tastes disgusting but there is something compulsive about it! I think Olives fit into this category too. I have ‘acquired’ a taste for Olives and Roquefort- this means I have tortured myself by trying them and eventually got to the point where eating them doesn’t make me heave. This was aided by two key ingredients – Mediterranean sun and cold white Rioja! Occasionally some inedible things are fantastic because they are perfect for the location!
A typical and celebrated dish here in North Carolina is grits. Low end diners sell them for breakfast, high end restaurants add shrimp and a bit of garnish and sell them for a fortune! I didn’t like the look or sound of them so I didn’t want to smell, feel or taste them! ‘Grits’ doesn’t conjure up something appetising! Called ‘grits’ because the dish is gritty, so gritty in fact that in a novel The Secret Life of Bees the main character was punished by her abusive father by being made to kneel on grits (pre boiling I think!).  ‘Grits’ is coarsely ground corn made into a porridge by cooking it with water. I knew I was going to have to confront grits eventually – if only for research! I looked up some recipes – one site claimed ‘if you’ve never tried grits … you haven’t lived’. Perhaps this person didn’t realize that dry grits, scattered where ants can get at them, can be used to kill them by causing them to 'explode' as the grits expand inside them. I guess the ants know they have lived after eating grits as they see their little ant lives flash before them.

Here is the basic recipe if you would like to start living, expanding or are just mad:
3 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup hominy grits
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
Bring the water and salt to a boil in a saucepan. Whisk in the grits and continue to whisk for 1 minute. When the mixture comes to a boil again, turn the heat to low. Stir frequently, cook for 10 to 15 minutes.
Remove the grits from the heat and add pepper, butter and cheese; mix well. Stir until the butter and cheese are melted.
Use to kill ants, torture small girls or carry out minor plaster repairs about the house

It was with great trepidation that I went to a dinner party on Friday where the ‘theme’ was ‘Southern Living’. As is the custom you take along dishes to compliment the theme! I hadn’t got a clue what to take. I ended up making ‘fried green tomatoes’ but I could only get red ones but I don’t think colour matters in the south! I also took Deviled eggs. I was assured it was a very southern dish. I think it is something Margo and Jerry would have served in ‘The Good life’ in the 1970’s! Very retro! I deviated from the recipe and used English mustard! Everyone but me eat them!
The hostess made shrimp and grits. For shrimp and grits you follow the basic recipe and add fried onion and prawns. My mom taught me that it is rude to play with food and when you are at someone’s house you eat what you are given. I’ve never been one to do as I am told but it was time to start living and try the grits. It looked fairly awful. Literally like prawns in porridge. (I kid you not!) claims ‘no one can eat just one!’ One what? One bowl? One grain of grit?! I guess they were right – hard to pick out just on grit in a whole bowl! Believe me, I tried! Eating it was helped by three things: we were in a beautiful ‘southern’ house – with typical front and back porches and rockers- overlooking a lake so the food befit the setting, the hosts are great (whatever they had served it would have been a good evening) and it actually tasted ok. I was hindered by the absence of alcohol as designated driver. I’m sure the ‘Southern Comfort’ cocktails would have done what Rioja does for olives and made the Shrimp and Grits the most amazing dish I had ever eaten.
Will I be boiling up a pot for breakfast? No! Will I ever order them in a restaurant? No!  Will I make my children try them before allowing them to say they don’t like them? Well that would be just mean!


  1. mmmmmmmmmmmm....delicious!!!, Can I get it in Tescos?
    Grit & sharp cheddar????? surely against the law to serve such a dangerous dish

  2. Real English sharp Cheddar would be considered a 'weapon of mass destruction' in comparision to American 'cheddar'!!!
    Happy to send some grits so you can enjoy the experience!

  3. Funnily enough, they're debating if there is anything Tesco's don't actually sell on the radio at the moment. I might phone in and suggest Grits based meals.

  4. "Grits can also be fried in a pan or molded to create a firm block. The resulting block can be cut with a knife or wire, and the slices are fried in a fat such as vegetable oil, butter, or bacon grease" source: wikipedia. WTF?

  5. I guess you could dye them with food colouring and model an American flag from a 'firm block'! I might do that on the 4th July for breakfast!

  6. A few portions of that will certainly have you 'firm blocking'

  7. Althought i like porridge , grits sound revolting but you say in the right setting it seems better, would i try it ..maybe. No, you were not one for doing as you were told especially where food was concerned alwaye the fussy eater so i am suprised that you even tried them .