Grits With Cheese
This is another treat from my Texas cook, Harriet Fields. You will know that it is Harriet's recipe because she puts Tabasco in it . . . for breakfast! Harriet puts Tabasco and hot green peppers in everything, so this dish should not strike us as strange. It is unusually good and she serves it as a side dish at dinner as well as at breakfast. We are not talking about a food product here so much as we are talking about a memory, a life-style, a childhood, a commitment, a dish that was popular during the worst times in the history of the South. When there was little else to eat one could always have grits. Following the War Between the States everyone ate grits-poor white trash, landowners, black farmhands. Now it is eater, not because one has to but because one can choose to eat this old recipe left over from difficult times. I can just hear you grits lovers yelling that I am being unfair. No, the truth of the matter is that I love grits. When I was in graduate school studying theology, the inevitable would happen each evening. Several of us could take only so many hours of studying, so we would run out to eat an extra meal about ten or eleven in the evening. We found a place in Chatham, New Jersey, called Mother's, though Mother was a Greek fellow who bore no resemblance to my mother. None at all. He would cook us fried eggs and potatoes for very little money, and we went often. One night Carrol, a big lad from the South, yelled, "I can't stand it any longer. These eggs are perfect but there are no grits." I did not know what grits were, so he wrote to his mother and she shipped us a box. Since we had no kitchen we took them to our Greek "Mother" and Carrol taught him how they were to be prepared. At last we sat down to grits and eggs. Carrol smiled and said, "That's better!" I then realized that he was not hungry for grits as much as he was lonely for home. That's what grits are for. Buy a box in the supermarket and cook according to the instructions on the box. You cook them just like cream of wheat. A puddle of grits is placed on the plate and topped with butter and black pepper. Fried eggs and toast go on the side. The egg yolk must run into the grits. . . . Oh, I think I'll go call Carrol.