Grits: A Cultural and Culinary Journey Through the South
Grits is a fascinating cultural history and examination of the current role of grits in Southern cuisine.
For food writer Erin Byers Murray, grits had always been one of those basic, bland Southern table necessities—something to stick to your ribs or dollop the butter and salt onto. But after hearing a famous chef wax poetic about the terroir of grits, her whole view changed. Suddenly the boring side dish of her youth held importance, nuance, and flavor. She decided to do some digging to better understand the fascinating and evolving role of grits in Southern cuisine and culture as well as her own Southern identity.
As more artisan grits producers gain attention in the food world, grits have become elevated and appreciated in new ways, nationally on both sides of the Mason Dixon Line, and by international master chefs. Murray takes the reader behind the scenes of grits cultivation, visiting local growers, millers, and cooks to better understand the South’s interest in and obsession with grits. What she discovers, though, is that beyond the culinary significance of grits, the simple staple leads her to complicated and persisting issues of race, gender, and politics.
Praise for Grits: A Cultural and Culinary Journey Through the South
"Grits explores the culinary and cultural complexities of the humble grit with honest curiosity and enthusiasm. You will never look at a bowl of grits the same way. Buy this book today!"—Sean Brock, chef and author of Heritage
"Erin Byers Murray’s soul-stirring travelogue is essential reading for anyone looking to understand the origins and evolution of grits. She takes us from eastern North Carolina, where Cherokee women beat dried corn kernels to make mush a thousand years ago, to the sea islands of the South Carolina Lowcountry, where enslaved Africans in the 1800s cooked grits to nourish their families, to Oxford, Mississippi in the 21st century, where women restoring an old mill is an act of resistance to Big Agriculture. After reading Grits, we’ll always approach that bowl of creamy, nubbly corn grits with a fresh mindfulness—and absolute awe at their deliciousness!"—Matt Lee and Ted Lee, authors of The Lee Bros. Charleston Kitchen
"Grits is a delightful and authoritative look at the life and times of a familiar southern culinary staple. Murray shows how grits, created by Native American cooks, were eventually treasured by people from all walks of life in the American South: black, white, enslaved, free, poor, and wealthy. Along the journey, Murray introduces an interesting cast of characters—cooks, chefs, farmers, millers, scholars and vendors—who honor this venerable dish."—Adrian Miller, James Beard Foundation Book Award-winning author of Soul Food: The Surprising Story of an American Cuisine, One Plate at a Time
"Murray’s enlightening culinary tour will be of great interest to foodies and students of Southern history and culture."—Publishers Weekly