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Location: Clearwater, South Carolina, United States

Monday, December 10, 2007

grits y'all

As most of you know, I am wont to mentally meander through the dictionary that is installed in my computer and upon finding a word new to me – or one not in common usage – I bring it out into the light of the written word to be examined by all. The word glottochronology is the use of lexicostatistics to study the rate of change in vocabulary and the amount of vocabulary two presently distinct but related languages share, using this information to estimate how long ago the languages diverged.

Everyday folks seldom use this word or type of study but it did make me wonder how long ago the words ‘grits’ and ‘y’all’ became southernisms of the American language – notice I didn’t say English, I was corrected on this by a Brit long ago. Northerners and others possibly recognize these words from TV shows depicting alleged dumb southern hicks but they have no idea of the depth of meaning these two words convey. Since I have not written about either of these in a while, it became time.

The first 6 or so years of my life occurred out in the northeastern corner of Mississippi (1941-1947) and as far back as I can remember we always had grits somewhere on the menu. In our world today, if available at all, grits have become a side dish and in some places a very minor one. Back in the day, grits was the main course of many meals – the entrée. On most days we would have eggs, if we could find the hidden nests of the chickens that populated the yard. Easter wasn’t the only occasion for us to hunt eggs. Then when a hog was killed we had the bonus of hog brains and eggs.

On some days it was grits and fatback and occasionally there would be ham and red-eye gravy. Grits was not just a breakfast food; it was for any meal, depending on what else was available. I remember meals of grits and tomato gravy. Back on the farm and even in later years tomatoes were canned for the winter – Mom would take the canned tomatoes, cook them with some flour and maybe grease, add seasoning and along with the grits, you had a meal.

It seems that I have heard grits called cornmeal mush and that would be somewhat close to correct because it is a ground corn product - mostly from white corn, though I have seen and eaten some yellow grits. They are coarser ground than meal and if properly cooked there is a subtle textural ambiance that has to be experienced to be understood and appreciated. If one is raised with and becomes a connoisseur of this noble corn product, its slight graininess and occasional lump is a delight to the tongue and imagination – and is a part of the true southerner’s cultural heritage.

But there is a greater heritage than even this, the one of the true Christian. The genuine believers should be able to trace their words and actions of love back to those of the Son of God – the one that loved enough to give His life in order to forgive and erase the guilt of the wrong things that any of us have ever done. The least we can do for the one that gave His life for us is to live our lives for Him – Jesus Christ. ec

PS – I will get to the ‘y’all’ part next time.


Blogger ancient one said...

Hey... I know "grits" but I never learned to like them. Imagine seven kids plus parents around our breakfast table and one didn't like the grits.

But I'll tell you what I do like. Rice and Tomatoes. Pour home canned tomatoes into a pot with cooked rice and season with Bacon grease, salt and pepper. That is good eating. One of my favorites!!

12/11/2007 10:57:00 AM  
Blogger Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

Thanks for the lesson and the memoir, Mr. E.

As for grits, I love 'em.

12/11/2007 11:36:00 PM  
Blogger Merle said...

Hi Mr. Eddie ~~ Interesting post which was enjoyable. Last week. I had a crossword clue "Percussion instrument" with 12 letters. I got it
because I had some of the letters.
The answer was "glockenspiel" that I had never heard of before. I hope you and your wife have made a start on Christmas cards and your tree.
Time is a'wasting !! Take care,
Regards, Merle.

12/12/2007 05:13:00 AM  
Blogger itsboopchile said...

Hi, grits, Mama never cooked them so I never learned to eat grits. She did have hog'sheadcheese, or however you spell it, and I wouldn't even try it!!
Tomato gravy, you make me hungry, I loved it but have never made it myself. Shame on me!!
I am looking forward to your post on y'all, one of my favorite sayings.
Merry Christmas,
Betty G

12/12/2007 11:18:00 AM  
Blogger mreddie said...

ancient one - I like rice and tomato gravy as well but it is hard to get away from my gritty roots. :)

SSN - I can and have eaten them with any meal. I have cooked grits and eaten them with chips of leftover roast beef and cheese mixed in and felt very good about it.

merle - I too enjoy crossword puzzles and on some days complete two or three of them - helps keep my mind awake. I think our decorating is due to start tomorrow.

itsboopchile - It is interesting to me the different types of breakfast foods that folks in different parts of the country were raised with. My FIL had fish for breakfast when he was growing up - and he was from the south. :) ec

12/12/2007 11:25:00 PM  
Blogger Kila said...

That's for clearing that up! I'll be sure to use the right "Y'all"!

12/14/2007 11:57:00 PM  
Blogger mreddie said...

kila - Much confusion still remains in some folks minds - plus I was thinking that I don't say y'all as much as I used to - what's up with that? ec

12/17/2007 10:25:00 PM  

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