"I believe grits is one of God's finer creations."
~ Nicole, in Rain Song (2008, Bethany House)
I'm trying to be faithful to post every so often about things that are truly Southern. So far I've written about oatmeal bread, moonshine and Krispy Kreme donuts (scroll around to find these blog posts here). There are countless other aspects of the South I want to touch on. Yet, it seems that life keeps getting in the way of composing those thoughts, which is crazy, because I think, a true Southerner understands that life should be lived slowly, like a winding brook, with time to wade barefooted--not rushed and harried. I should be like that lazy creek up in the Smoky Mountains and take time to breathe and observe instead of being so set on deadlines and that ol' instilled-in-me work ethic.
True, I live in North Carolina, and we are graced to be part of the South. I wasn't always a Southerner because I was born and raised in Japan. (I heard some of the missionaries speaking Japanese with Southern accents, and didn't want to be like them. Sigh. As children, we do have our aversions.) However, my roots are in Virginia and North Carolina, so really, even though I have the love of sushi, seaweed, and broiled eel (unagi) running through me, I also have grits, cornbread, and sweet tea in my veins. My Mama from Richmond would make iced tea and grits for us as children; I have fond memories of both at our home in Awaji.
I've traveled to many countries and written about them in my novels, but I've been labeled as "knowing how to write about the South" by reviewers. Me? I look at the calendar and realize I should know about the South. After all, not only are my roots here, but I've now lived in North Carolina for 24 years. Hard to imagine that I've had time to have a childhood in Japan and live here for 24 years when I think of myself as such a youngin'.
So let's talk about that true Southern delicacy---grits. I've lived long enough to know that many people don't have a clue as to what grits are. Many turn their noses up at just hearing the word.
"Grits? Yuck. Sounds like gritty and gross and gravel."
And there are those who refuse to even try them, including my Yankee/European husband.
Grits should be tried because they are:
a) healthy for you, made from broken grains of corn, rich in iron and calcium
b) easy to prepare (there are even boxes of instant grits)
c) a versatile food, which can be covered with butter, salt or cheese (or all three) and eaten at any meal
d) wonderful when served with shrimp or red-eye gravy
e) delicious in a casserole or fried and eaten with maple syrup
f) possibly the closest to Manna from Heaven the world will ever know (according to many real Southerners)
Please, don't let anyone steer you away from these lovely white pieces of broken corn. Welcome grits into your life today! Put a little South in your mouth!
And on another note, grits have another meaning, too. What's that? you ask. Well, if you've been to Cracker Barrel and seen the T-shirts with GRITS printed on them, you know that grits is an acronym for Girls Raised in the South.
Speaking of those girls, if you want to listen to Brantley Gilbert sing his country song about "ain't nothing like a woman Southern born and bred" then listen to G.R.I.T.S. here.
And if you want to know what kind of blessing to say when a bowl of hot grits sits before you, laugh a little at this website.
Learn more about grits and recipes for them at GRITS. Surprise your family tonight!