It’s true! Three years after setting off to explore, research, and grapple with this deeply Southern dish, I can finally say it’s here. Grits: A Cultural and Culinary Journey Through the South (St. Martin’s Press) took me on a long journey across gravelly roads, out in to corn fields, standing alongside millers, and eating lots and lots of grits, in search of stories about my new (reclaimed, really) homeland.
When I took those first nervous steps along this path, I was more than overwhelmed. But during a phone interview with chef Sean Brock, the puzzle pieces started to emerge. He told me that he thought grits offered up the ultimate expression of terroir. Terroir! I was familiar with the term thanks to wine and other ingredients like apples… and yes, oysters! But grits?
His comment gave me direction as well as a thread to follow. Little did I know that it would take me down rabbit holes, or even to a distillery, or that the research would then offer clarity about the South. From history and politics to gender and racial issues, studying grits helped me shape a bigger story of this region. And the book shares the stories that resonated most.
Last week, we celebrated the book’s release at the restaurant Mop/Broom Mess Hall, where chef Tandy Wilson cooked up grits with collard greens and friends from all parts of my life gathered and toasted. It was a blur, but one I’ll never forget.
So, what’s next? I’m hoping to take my time with a series of targeted visits to cities across the South and beyond. I’m looking at New Orleans in February, a trip to Boston in March, and hopefully stops in Oxford, MS; Chapel Hill, NC; and Birmingham and Charleston along the way. I’ll do my best to keep the site up to date; you can also follow along on Facebook and Instagram.
Hopefully I’ll see you along the #grits trail soon!