I just got home from a food party that one of my friends threw. She’s originally from Mississippi, and she’s found that there are certain cultural food references that people in the Midwest just don’t understand.
Case in point: grits. After having to explain that grits (a) were a form of food and (b) were made out of corn, she finally sent the following email:
Recently it has come to my attention that a large percentage of those residing in Illinois have never in fact had the southern delicacy of shrimp and grits. In order to remedy this situation, on Saturday Dec 10 I will be preparing my grandmother’s famous shrimp and grits recipe (and no, my grandmother is not Paula Dean, contrary to popular belief). Along with shrimp & grits there will likely be other southern staples such as ham and sweet potato biscuits as well as strawberry shortcake for dessert.
Much to her surprise, close to 25 people descended on her house for Paula Dean-inspired cooking. I forgot to bring a camera, so I don’t have pictures to share, but it was super tasty. She had roasted pecans, crayfish dip, and sweet potato biscuits (with and without ham) to start off. I’d had pecans before, and the crayfish dip was similar to a mayonnaise-based shrimp dish, but the sweet potato biscuits were complete new to me. They had a really nice flavor, and were just the right level of sweet and savory.
The main meal, shrimp and grits, certainly lived up to its reputation. I’ve had grits before, but have never been very impressed by them. I think it’s partially a texture thing – I like my food to have a well-defined texture and to maintain that texture throughout eating. For example, soggy cereal is nasty, but soft foods (like mashed potatoes) are great. Grits fall into the awkward texture category, because I feel like I’m eating creamy sand, and there’s just something wrong about that. That being said, the food tasted delicious! It was definitely better than previous incarnations of grits (probably because it was homemade), and the mixture of flavors was really great. I just don’t think I’ll start incorporating grits into my every day meal plan.
For dessert, my friend served a strawberry shortcake with sweet biscuits in place of the shortcake. Tasty, simple, and nice and cool after a rather filling meal.
It’s easy to forget how much variety of food there is within the US, and across the world, but nights like tonight are such an awesome way to experience the best different kinds of food. And I’m always open to invitations to come and eat at your house! =]