A small package was sitting on our front steps last evening when I went out to the mail box. It had Chapel Hill, NC, potter Tracey Broome's name on the return address. And it had a certain gravitas to it, a certain weight. Turned out to be a two-pound bag of Old Mill Of Guilford stone ground, unbleached white corn grits. Mmmmmm ... grits.
We were in North Carolina back in early October for the opening of the "Clay and Blogs" show in Southern Pines, and the week or so we spent in that state allowed me to indulge myself with grits at every opportunity. (And the occasional biscuits 'n' gravy.) I was born and raised in New England, which generally abhors grits - in fact, doesn't even understand what they are - but living in Virginia for 11 years gave me an appreciation for the decidedly Southern staple and for the Waffle House chain, where you can get cheese grits and all the waitresses call you "Honey." I love grits and once actually was a card-carrying member of the International Grits Appreciation Society. Sadly, I lost the membership card and the group has gone deep underground. A shame.
But Tracey heard my pleas for good grits when I saw her in Southern Pines and she tracked down the Guilford product. "We used to live near this mill and would get their grits and cornmeal all the time," she wrote in a card with the grits.
Thank you, Tracey.
In the photos: The precious bag of Guilford grits; shrimp 'n' cheese grits at the Causeway Cafe in Wrightsville Beach (the biggest bowl of this particular dish that I've ever seen); country ham, grits and eggs at the fish pier cafe in Kure Beach; biscuits 'n' sausage gravy at the Dixie Grill in Wilmington.