Make Your Grits Special: A Life Lesson

Have you ever heard the truism, Don’t wait for anybody to bring you flowers; plant your own garden?  (Now that is a valid and valuable viewpoint, but be sure to have faith that someday there will be someone who will bring you flowers. You don’t want to get bitter and disillusioned.) I learned a similar lesson today while on my ever-widening search for exemplary grits.

I ate shrimp and grits at a Fairhope, Ala. eatery called Locals downtown on Fairhope Avenue. Locals’ claim to fame is really good food made primarily from ingredients obtained from local farmers, ranchers, and dairies (thus, the name). I am pretty sure the water buffalo on today’s menu was not obtained in Alabama, but who knows? There is an alpaca farm here, so why not a water buffalo ranch? Right? Anyway, the shrimp and grits were guaranteed to be the BEST I ever had — it said so right on the sign outside — so I went inside to see if this was so. I ordered them, and a beautiful bowl of the aforementioned gustatory delight was placed before me. One taste assured me that they were, indeed, the best I have ever had. However, I have only had them one time before at a restaurant far away from here and they were very heavy on some kind of brown gravy stuff that did not appeal to me.

The Locals variation was subtle yet rich, with a creamy sauce and an optimal amount of cheese. I know it is hard to believe, but, unlike chocolate, you can actually overdo cheese.  When the chef came out to ask how everything was, I said, “delicious,” and asked if he used special grits. Now, I was meaning like stone-ground grits from a monastery or something, but what he said was filled with meaning. “We make our grits special,” he said. He then explained that he uses broth instead of water so the grits start out flavorful. That was interesting from a culinary perspective, but profound on a deeper level.

I will continue the exploration of all things “grit,” in coming weeks, but for now I want to go ponder the unwitting advice given by an excellent creator of grits extraordinaire. If you have something devoid of color or flavor in your life, don’t think you have to start out with special. Make it special.

Until next week, may the grits be ever in your favor.