“Feasting is also closely related to memory. We eat certain things in a particular way in order to remember who we are. Why else would you eat grits in Madison, New Jersey?” Jeff Smith
This morning I’m eating grits. Though I’ve lived in Thailand for more than twenty years, I still keep grits in my cupboard. They’re essential, and though I’ve changed to eating rice for breakfast on many occasions, there’s nothing like a bowl of grits.
1. Grits are a staple for Southerners—like rice to Asians and potatoes to the Irish. If you aren’t Southern, you might say they have “no taste,” which is true if you don’t know about them. True grits lovers know that grits are just a base. You really eat them for the “stuff” you put inside. For me, that’s bacon, sausage, or at least cheese and butter.
2. I have great memories associated with grits. I remember a warm summer day waking up with half a sheet over my body to the sound of my father plowing a field and talking in mule language, “Geeeeh” and “Haahhh.” I remember my great grandmother taking her leftover grits to the yard where birds would catch them in the air as she tossed them out. I remember watching my grandmother mix Karo Light corn syrup and butter to make a paste for her biscuits and grits.
3. Like manna in the Old Testament, we are meant to experiment with the versatility of grits. I once made a candlelight dinner featuring grits. Thanks to Southern Living Magazine, I put together a rich recipe of grits with fresh shrimp and asparagus. Sausage and grits casserole is my all time favorite.
4. Grits travel. I have seen grits in Africa, Thailand, Malaysia, New Jersey, and even in Hawaii. Grits travel wherever Southern people go. Maybe it’s for comfort or for good memory, but for whatever reason, you can find them if you talk to the right people.
For today’s creative activity, think of your favorite comfort foods and try to associate the reasons you’ve developed a great memory association with them. Don’t forget to share with us!