I like grits.
I like to eat grits at night when medication leaves my stomach feeling “iffy.”
I willingly gave up grits years ago when I decided to cut back on carbohydrates; plus they were more time-consuming to prepare than a bowl of high fiber, multi-grain cereal.
Our renewed relationship is about six months old, but already I have to fight for control of cravings that grip me when it’s snack time or medicine time, catching me off guard.
It took a single night to become addicted though. I never had been before, because eating grits used to be as natural as eating cornbread—we had them often. When we were growing up we ate them for breakfast with eggs, bacon, and toast.
Mama used to cook them for us when we had upset stomachs too, and couldn’t keep anything down. That was before the BRAT (bananas, applesauce, rice, and toast) diet, and living in Colorado, where asking for grits in a restaurant, would get you a “What’s a grit?” Such ignorance and an ignorant smirk made the Southerner in me want to slap the taste out the waiter’s mouth.
But, as I was saying, on that fateful night of reunion, I made myself a bowl of white grits because I’d skipped dinner, and I needed to take meds labeled, “Take With Food.” Having learned my lesson the hard way, I knew I needed something that would stick to my ribs. Nothing does that quite like grits.
There wasn’t any “junk food,” meaning apples, bananas, cheese, or quickie food (because I hadn’t done that week’s grocery shopping), but I found two boxes of grits in a bottom cabinet. John had bought them for our daughter’s next care package.
Erin lives in Chicago, so naturally, she couldn’t find grits in stores there. Who’s surprised? So we occasionally send boxes of goodies she can’t do without, or staples like grits.
Anyway, for the first time in my life, I followed the directions on the package and I was rewarded with a bowl of creamy grits that wasn’t scorched, singed, or burned. They didn’t stick to the pot either. Those grits were so good, I ate them leaning against the kitchen counter. I leaned, not the grits.
That first steaming mouthful was my undoing. The rich blend of turbinado sugar, a skeet taste of sea salt, blended with that ground corn caressed my tongue and the back of my mouth, and had its way with my taste buds. I actually closed my eyes, exhaled through my nostrils, and I smelled my own breath. It bore the aromas of well-cooked, well-seasoned grits. And my senses declared: “Mmmm GOOD.” Made me weak in the knees.
I needed another spoonful.
Again, I skimmed the top of that white sea tinged ever so lightly with reconstituted cane juice; corralled by a ring of golden liquid butter fat. Grits slid into the hollow of my spoon.
My mouth opened just wide enough for the next spoonful of goodness to find home between my lips, and onto my tongue. I don’t even remember removing the spoon. But … I did it again, and again, until metal rang loudly against the bottom of my empty green bowl.
I sucked my spoon. All I tasted was hollow echoes. I wanted more …
Now I dream of grits for breakfast. I have considered sneaking them for lunch. I would eat them for dinner, but I might have to explain or invent a convincing lie. So I’ve developed the habit of eating them at night when everyone is asleep, and I’m lining up words on pages—waiting for those stomach lining irritating pills to work their magic.
It’s a good thing for me that grits are bland and without a distinct aroma because if they weren’t, their smell would wake the household and everyone would smell out my secret. Because I cook them on the sly, I can’t take the chance that turning on the vent over the stove might save my bacon by stealing away rogue odors and dispatching the out and across the rooftops.
When I do give into my cravings, my mouth waters even as I quietly, craftily lift a pot from the cabinet next to the stove. I gently place it on a burner, then barefoot it across the cold ceramic tiles, choose two measuring cups from the first cabinet: One for liquid measure—one for dry.
I cook and eat late-night grits like a Grits Ninja.