GRITS

WORDS FROM W.W. March 9, 2010

I was raised in Kentucky, the Bluegrass State- the state where every other barn had either “Chew Mail Pouch Tobacco” or “See Rock City” painted on the side of it. Kentucky was, and is, a wonderful place. Don’t let the mint juleps at the Kentucky Derby fool you, sophisticated mixed drinks don’t define this state. It is about as homey and laid-back as you can get.
One of the food items that is part of Kentucky culture, as well as in the other southern states, is grits. I’m not sure why, but grits has gone mainstream. Maybe it’s the ripple effect of Cracker Barrel restaurant! Whatever it is, people seem to think its “cuisine chic” to order grits at food establishments where it is offered. If it was called “gruel” the response might not be as favorable, or seem flavorable.
Don’t let anyone fool you by saying they love grits. The might like it smothered in butter, or sweetened with sugar, or, in my case, mixed with some sausage gravy, but the number of people who love grits…plain grits…can be counted on one hand that has even lost most of its fingers.
I firmly believe grits was added to the southern breakfast plate because there needed to be something to fill in the open space. There were the eggs…the bacon and sausage…and the biscuits opened and closed on a gracious spreading of butter and honey.
There was still a space to be filled. Throw some grits on top of that opening!
No one eats their grits first. Most people go for a piece of the bacon or a bite of the sunny-side ups. Grits are the filler when the good stuff is all gone, and yet any typical southern breakfast will give more acreage to the grits than the more flavorable items on the plate.
It’s not that grits have no purpose. In places around the globe that are impoverished, grits, or a form of them, make up the difference between life and starvation. It’s just that in our culture they get too much play. People talk fondly about them, but a taste of them is not usually followed by a smile or even an expression of satisfaction. Oatmeal has a higher approval rating.
Grits, however, is a good visual analogy for how many of us live our lives. What is void of joy is what we fill our plate with. What is soul-satisfying gets pushed to a little space on the edge.
“Give me a taste of that stuff right there that consumes 60 hours of your week.” (Pause as the life taster samples the product.) “Wow! That must have taken a lot of effort to make something that is completely lacking in taste and flavor!”
“What’s this that has dropped off your plate?” (A finger swab to sample.) “Wow! That is exquisite. That is delightful. It’s like a taste of heaven. What do you call that? The sweetness of knowing the Savior.”
Remember! “The grits of life” is meant to just be filler, not the main entrée’. Take a look at your life plate. What are the main things that are feeding your daily appetite?

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