Moss, is humor writer from Tennessee. She writes a
weekly human interest column about daily life and the funny
things that happen to everyone.
She has written for the Daily News of Kingsport, Griffin Journal,
Oakridge Now, Atlanta Woman Magazine, Aberdeen Examiner, Angleton
Advocate, and Smyrna AM, a supplement of the Murfreesboro Daily News
Journal. She has been
published by Voyageur Press, McGraw Hill, and the good folks
at Guidepost Books. Her articles have appeared in
numerous anthologies and other publications, both in print and online.
She is a
former board member and past Editor of the Columnists.com, website of the National Society of Newspaper
oldest and largest professional organization
for columnists. She is the Web Editor of
Humorists.com and a founder of the Southern Humorists writers'
organization. She is writer, editor, and webmaster of HumorColumnist.com.
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Online Since 1999
||All About Grits....
"Whatís that white stuff on my plate? I didnít order
that!" observes any northerner who goes south and orders breakfast in a southern
restaurant for the first time. Northern folks donít understand
grits. Grits come automatically with breakfast in the south whether you order them
or not, like butter with bread or cream with coffee.
Seasoned travelers nod knowingly, and offer advice, "Itís
sort of like cream of wheat." Well, not exactly. Grits are
normally thicker Ė not to mention the obvious fact that they
are made of corn, and cream of wheat is made from another grain.
If you want to really irritate a southerner, just compare grits
to cream of wheat Ė or anything else in the world.
Grits are a mystery food. We can always spot a Yankee by their
reaction to grits. They are the ones picking at the white lump
with a fork while politely tying to avoid gagging for the rest of the meal. The
Yankee will make a mental note to be sure to tell the waitress not to serve
any grits next time. The waitress will make a mental note to bring more
grits. Something has to be wrong with the first batch if they are not
Grits are a regional food of the south. In the situation of
eating grits, Iím rather inclined to side with the north, if it wonít start
another war. I can eat grits with enough sugar and determination; however, a
good olí boy will eat them with only a bit of salt and butter
and a smack of the lips - or will pour bacon grease on them. Of
course, southerners will eat about anything with bacon grease on
If you know how grits are made, you will probably be even less
inclined to indulge in their ingestion. They are made from
mashed up hominy. Whatís hominy? Well, itís dried corn that
is soaked in lye water until the husks come off and the kernels
puff up. The lye is drained and the puffed corn rinsed to remove
the lye. It sounds a lot like a death wish to me.
Folks in the south donít worry much about getting poisoned
from things like lye. They like lye so much, they even used it
in their home made soap in the olden days. Some claim it is the
best cleaning soap there is. The lye soap my grandmother used to
make would clean dishes, laundry, hands, and possibly remove
your eyebrows if you used it on your face. Maybe they eat grits
to keep the lye away from the soap makers.
Southerners like living dangerously, though, and eat other
poison foods as well. Pokeweed, for instance, is a traditional southern dish
cooked in spring as greens, something like spinach. Again, it involves
much rinsing to remove the poison and much bacon grease to make it eatable. I
really donít advise trying it unless you know what you are
doing, have a southern mama to advise you, or have a husband
youíve been wanting to get rid of anyhow.
Southerners are as proud of grits as they are of cornbread.
There are other ways to make grits without the lye process, but
they donít seem nearly as fun or challenging. You can grind
white corn and use the fine part as white corn meal and the
larger particles for grits. Some folks have actually made grits
into a specialty item, adding cheese, frying grits pancakes, and
making grits casseroles. No matter what you do to grits,
however, they are still grits.
I hope I wonít lose my membership card to southern culture
over my distaste for grits. Lord knows, Iíve eaten enough
cornbread and can whip up a fine crock pot of black-eyed peas
with ham hocks should the need arise. Surely that and my
southern drawl should be enough get me through any Mason-Dixon
But, please donít get me started on okra or Iím sunk.
Copyright 2006 Sheila Moss
Nashville, TN 37219
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