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Location: Clearwater, South Carolina, United States

Monday, October 10, 2005

vittles - 3

OK - here's another about vittles. The first combination food I recall from my formative years is the very basic grits and eggs. One might think that these companion foods always taste the same no matter who prepares them or how it's done, but such is not the case - recalling memories from my long ago Army chow days – though I don’t remember grits, they could mess up anything else.

The taste and texture of grits has many variations, dependent upon the brand name, the type pot in which they are cooked and even the preparer's motivations and emotions. Considering myself to be somewhat of a connoisseur of this ground corn product, let me state up front that my favorite brand is Jim Dandy - with everything else at least a poor second.

Be aware also that I do not consider instant grits to be real food and they do not even deserve to have the noble, ancient name of "grits" printed on its package. This product would rate somewhere below leftover wallpaper paste on my taste scale. This statement is not meant to imply that I stand around licking excess paste off the wallpaper.

My preparation utensil of choice is a tri-clad stainless steel pot that's been in my family at least 22 years, has cooked multitudinous amounts of this item and now holds the honored title of our "grits pot". In my opinion the cast iron or aluminum containers just don't do a proper job, even adding a bit of themselves to the grits with each cooking.

Having arrived at the proper brand of grits and the best choice of a preparation vessel, the variable of the preparer enters the picture. More than just having the proper expertise, we must realize that one's moods and attitudes have be right or it can effect the palatability of the finished product. Imagine if you will, someone with the early morning temperament of a wounded water buffalo doing the delicate job of preparing properly cooked grits.

A person could have their day ruined at it's very inception by being forced by the constraints of time to consume runny grits, having to constantly fight to keep them on the plate, or the other extreme of the Old Testament type - a burnt offering. But on the other hand, they shouldn't be too smooth and perfect either - where's the robustness and adventure in that?

In my amateur opinion, grits should be thick enough to stay on the plate even if piled beyond the horizontal plane of said vessel's rim - even when mixed with partially cooked egg yolks. Also at least a few lumps should be contained therein for the sake of a consistency variance as well as taste, especially if some of these delightful morsels are slightly scorched.

This brings us to the egg part of this food duo. Even though the taste of these can vary from egg to egg and chicken to chicken, our source choices are limited mostly to the store bought kind, so I will confine my comments to the preparation only.

Eggs can be cooked any number of ways, but as a companion food for grits, the proper way should be with the white done and the yolk still in a semi-liquid condition. This for two reasons - first, because this makes it possible to thoroughly mix the egg taste throughout the grits, and second, it adds a richness of color to an otherwise rather pale breakfast staple.

I arrive then at the obvious conclusion that consistency is very important in our food products, but even more so in our Christian lives. ec


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