The Morning Cure: Grits

As a Texan, I will be the first to admit we have a push and pull relationship with the south. Geographically, we are in fact in the southern United States, but Texas is its own. Texas wears the badge of honor of being one of two states to be its own sovereign nation prior to joining the U.S. (Hawaii is the other one if you’re curious).

This has contributed to Texas’ larger than life personality. If an American is asked “where are you from?” while abroad in Paris – which would be uncharacteristically polite from a Parisian- hearing Georgia or South Carolina, odds are the Parisian would offer an empty stare or follow up questions. But when the Parisian hears Texas, a light bulb goes off. Right or wrong the vision of cowboys and cattle drives come to mind. This sort of ego boost reinforces the shaky border between Texas and the collective southeast United States in culture and traditions.

Therefore, it wasn’t until the age of 27 that I was introduced to grits. I knew of them through “My Cousin Vinny”, and the humorous court scene between Mr. Gambini, played by Joe Pesci and Mr. Tipton. During the interview, Mr. Gambini asked Mr. Tipton if he used instant grits. Mr. Tipton, responding with a shadow of narcissism says “no self-respecting southerner uses instant grits. I take pride in my grits.”

I have found the grits connoisseurs in my family to be of the same mind. I married into a family with roots in Georgia. It has been a blessing for my taste buds and a very trying test for my waistline. This blessing once again unveiled itself after a night of howling at the moon at the family lake house. I woke up to my wife’s grandfather hovering over the stove. He was stirring a spoon in a pot full of grits. He gave it his full attention and stirred with a gentle touch. He said it’s important to cook the grits low and slow. You can’t rush it. “That’s how you get bad grits.”, he said. He then tossed in some cut up pieces of block cheese and added a sinful amount of butter to the pot and continued to stir.

The finished product is worth sharing. If it can help a poor soul find his will to complete Sunday chores or make it to the deer blind, then it’s worth it. And if done properly, as Mr. Green from Georgia instructed, you will have a bowl of thick grits that indeed stick to your ribs and will absorb and extinguish all your alcohol demons from the night before.

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