Although I have not found any of my relatives who lived in Southern states (until the present generation), there is no question that we have many recipes in common.
Take grits. Now, a lot of people would say, “Yes, take the grits–far away, please.” But they have not had the creamy grits I had in a Florida diner. I happen to like grits. I wrote about the importance of corn to the early settlers, and mentioned grits there.
What the cook does to grits is so similar to what my grandmothers did to corn meal–instead of mush, it is just “grits”, add cheese to either for a main dish, chill and fry for a polenta-like dish–etc.
But as much as I like grits–they always seem to come out a little, well, gritty. So I was amazed and delighted when we stopped at Capozi’s Diner in New Port Richey Florida and I dipped my spoon into the smooth, silky version they create.
I chatted with the owner and asked what they do. In her mind it was nothing special, but she did say they cooked the grits 45 minutes, which is twice as long as is recommended on any of the packages I’ve seen. And as an afterthought, she said, “Half water and half milk.”
So I followed suit, and indeed the long cooking does the trick. It would be great if I had a slow cooker, but as it is, I had to do a lot of stirring, and still wound up with a pan that was a challenge to get clean—but OH, those silky grits. Not a pebble of grit left in them!