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Greed and Grits

Proverbs 1:19 This is the fate of everyone greedy of loot: unlawful gain takes away the life of him who acquires it.

Southern food is considered among the most revered cuisines of the world. Well, at least in my world.

I grew up in south Texas, where TexMex was the most prominent. It was not until I moved to North Carolina 25 years ago that I was introduced to real “Southern Food” and more specifically Lowcountry Cuisine. Once I tasted the Lowcountry version of Shrimp and Grits, not only was I hooked but I began a mission to find the best recipes so I too could prepare this amazing entrée.

What I learned was it is not so much the recipe that makes this dish a Southern favorite, but the ingredients. A couple of years ago I read about a famous chef in the south, Charleston to be specific, by the name of Sean Brock. Sean Brock opened his Charleston restaurant “Husk” in 2010 and transformed the essences of Southern food by exploring an ingredient-driven cuisine. It all began in the rediscovery of heirloom products and redefined what it meant to cook and eat in the South.

Sean introduced me to Anson Mills where they grow, and mill Carolina Gold rice and a full complement of heirloom grains adopted by Antebellum rice families. The Antebellum Southern pantry consisted of ingredients that have almost vanished over time. Grits, cornmeal, Carolina Gold rice, all milled fresh daily for the table, created a regional cuisine—America’s first cuisine: the Carolina Rice Kitchen.

This “Rice Kitchen” is not strictly Carolinian, and it isn’t a physical kitchen, either. The term, popularized by food historian Karen Hess, refers to a cuisine—one that emerged in the early 19th century along the coasts and in the midlands of Carolina and Georgia.

In a few days, Alan and I will hold our first cooking class featuring Shrimp and Grits. The grits come from Anson Mills so if you signed up for the class, you’ll have the chance to taste for yourself what all the fuss is about. Created in the tradition of stone-ground, hand-milled grits dating back before 1850, these “big daddy” grits are bursting with flavor and offer a mouthfeel that will grab your attention.

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