Grits is an aboriginal American grits-based food common in
the Southern United States, consisting of coarsely ground grits.
Left: A typical
southern breakfast served at a restaurant. Consisting of grits, eggs,
bacon and toast.
Grits is similar to other thick maize-based porridges from around the world such
as polenta. It also has a resemblance to
farina (a porridge made with
semolina), a thinner porridge. The word
leads back to the traditional Northern European grit gruels.
Grits can be served
hot or cold and as a base for a multitude of dishes from breakfast to dessert,
depending on the additives. Additives can include salt and butter, meats
(especially shrimp on the east or gulf coast), cheese, and rarely vegetables. It is also common for people from above
the Mason-Dixon Line to have sugar with their grits.
Grits have their origins in indigenous Native American preparations of corn.
Traditionally the corn for grits was ground by a stone mill. The results are
passed through screens, with the finer part being grit meal, and the coarser
being grits. Many communities in the U.S. used a gristmill up until the mid-20th
century, with families bringing their own corn to be ground, and the miller
retaining a portion of the corn for his fee.
Three-quarters of grits sold in the United States is sold in the South
stretching from Texas to Virginia, also known as the "grits belt".
Yellow grits include the whole kernel, while white grits use hulled kernels.
Grits is prepared by simply boiling the ground kernels into a porridge; normally
it is boiled until enough water evaporates to leave it semi-solid.