Kittie Howard

Monday, March 19, 2012

G.R.I.T.S. : Girls Raised in the South (LA Memory)

The unseasonably warm weather we've had in Virginia led to an earlier switch of clothes this year. While going through one of the chests, like last year, I came across a shapeless Tee saved for no reason other than the writing across the top: G.R.I.T.S., with Girls Raised in the South in smaller lettering above. This triggered a Louisiana memory I wanted to share. However, politicians ventured South and elevated lowly grits to national dialogue of sorts.

Not wanting to make a political statement, I decided to hold my memory until the politicians got on their horses and rode away. Ahh, back to grits, a ground up corn that turns out white and mushy when cooked. I've heard visitors to the South say, "What's that?" when seeing grits for the first time. I admit, grits isn't the prettiest looking dish around.  Nor is, to my way of thinking, tapioca pudding. Sometimes, though, the taste buds, not the eyes, reign.

If you're the one eating the grits, you can put pretty much whatever you want in it or on it. Grits is grits, a southern staple. However, not every Southerner loves grits. Like others I know, my youngest sister won't eat it. I, on the other hand, love grits (as does my New Hampshire husband), so every Sunday grits is on the breakfast table. I'm not a purist (meaning, let's get on with it.) Instant grits works just fine, even if the taste is a bit rough compared to old-fashioned grits.

Growing up, we ate grits every morning for breakfast, either by itself with a dab of butter (during the week) or lathered over medium fried eggs ( on weekends).  Of course, without a microwave and instant grits, my mother got up earlier to cook the old-fashioned grits.  The basic recipe called for a quarter cup of grits and a cup of water (or a four-to-one proportion), if I remember correctly.

Not long after we'd moved from the farm to a nearby small town, a local guy married a gal from 'somewhere up there' -- a point of reference for someone not from the South. I don't remember where Edna Earl came from, nor did anyone else after Edna Earl faced the grits monster and laughed about it. In the South, you gotta, just gotta, 'fess up and laugh about stupid stuff. Here's what happened:

Edna Earl put a quarter cup of grits into a pot, added the water, and decided that that tiny amount of grits wouldn't work.  So, she added another quarter cup and stirred.  Convinced the box's recipe had a mistake, she added a half cup of grits to the water and stirred.  Not much happened.  What was in the pot didn't look like grits.  She added a cup of grits to the water.

Now, the first grits she's put in the pot had begun to cook, i.e., expand and absorb the water.  So, Edna Earl added more water.  This teased the grits monster which meant the grits needed more water.  But the pot was now too small, so she poured, spooned, and scraped the grits into a larger pot and added water, a process she repeated until, a half hour later, when her husband walked into the kitchen, Edna Earl stood on a kitchen stool and stirred ever-expanding grits with the stick end of her mop in a pot that's now a wash tub situated on all four burners.

Think I'll keep my G.R.I.T.S. memory another year.