Life is too short to eat lumpy grits. That is the first rule of thumb if you are new to gritsdom. People who have tried grits and came away with, shall we say, a bad taste in their mouth, almost surely consumed substandard grits. If there are clumps to be found, the grits should be stamped null and void and trashed. The other possible textural resons for a bad grits experience are too much water, rendering the grits soupy, or too little water, resulting in a grit brick that separates into little clumps — different from lumps but still undesirable. Beyond that, the only reason I can imagine for bad grits is lack of proper seasoning. Grits need plenty of salt, pepper, and butter. Ah ha! you might say. I knew it. They are bland, tasteless bowls of nothingness. Not so! Imagine, if you will, a fresh hot loaf of bread. Heavenly, right? But it began as a bowl of flour, ground wheat. You could have put water in it and made a pot of hot paste, called it bread and served it to bread neophytes and had them thinking that is what bread is supposed to taste like. Newbies need to go to a bakery and eat a warm croissant before forming an opinion of bread. Grits initiates should probably go to Natchez, Miss, and breakfast on some Mama Dot Grits at Dunleith Historic Inn for their first venture into the wonderful world of grits.
For those living in LA (Lower Alabama to those not fortunate enough to reside here), a terrific starting point is the East Shore Cafe on Main Street in Daphne.
This charming cafe built in a former schoolhouse has an impressive menu, and their breakfast, lunch, and dinner offerings are sure to please the pickiest palate. The menu proclaims the grits to be famous. I am not sure how far their fame extends, but I do know they taste just like they are supposed to. I breakfasted on their Cafe Plate, and the grits were seasoned and buttered to perfection and the consistency was just right. Not a lump in sight. I was told the cook is a Yankee, so it is a fair assumption that you don’t have to be born down in these parts to have grits in the blood. My compliments to the chef. Those of you who already know your grits will not be disappointed, and neophytes will have an excellent introduction to the basics. Grits 101, as it were.
Do yourselves a favor. Go have some good grits, and come back here next week to see what Grits have got going on.