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Grit

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Grit

Postby Dr. Goodword » Sun Aug 11, 2013 10:28 pm

• grit •


Pronunciation: grit • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. Small coarse granules, as of sand. 2. In the plural (grits): sand-like granules of ground corn used in a delicious side-dish in the southern US and wherever fine cuisine is appreciated. 3. Pluck, spirit, spunk, moxie, gutsiness, gumption.

Notes: Today's Good Word is a rarity: an English word spelled exactly as it is pronounced. Enjoy! The plural of today's word refers to a characteristic dish of the Southeastern US, hulled dried corn ground into small grits, or hominy (a corruption of Virginia Algonquian appuminneonash "something ground"). Grits are boiled in water and seasoned with butter or ham gravy. They go well with shrimp creole, too.

In Play: Rooster Cogburn in Charles Portis's novel True Grit is the quintessential US character with grit in the third sense of today's Good Word. John Wayne won an academy award for his interpretation of that character on screen in 1969. The association may have come from the grit in a bird's gizzard, which is essential for its digestion. Anyway, "It takes real grit to eat a helping of Aunt Lola's grits with red-eye gravy (from salt-cured ham) and ask for a second helping."

Word History: Today's word is a distant cousin of groats, grounds, and grist, all from the verb grind or its ancestors. The original Indo-European root was *ghre(n)dh- "to grind" with a Fickle N, an N that came and went for no apparent reason. In initial position, [gh] became [f] in Latin, so its verb for "grind" was frendere. Greek khondros "granule, groats" may share the same source. For sure Lithuanian gruzti "to crush, pound" and Latvian grauds "grain" come from the same source, as does Russian skrezhetat' "to grind (the teeth)". The verb, to grit (your teeth)" still means "to grind or grate". (Prudence Pender gave us a lot of grist to grind in our word mill when she suggested today's granular Good Word.)
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Re: Grit

Postby MTC » Sun Aug 11, 2013 11:37 pm

Great word, grit.

Looking back, I remember well the grits my grandmother served in a hot, viscous puddle on my breakfast plate, lightly salted with a dollop of butter in the center, looking almost like an egg over easy. The grits were always accompanied by a sizzling ham steak fresh off the griddle, toast, and if I was lucky, home-made fig or peach preserves. Not hard to take, no, not hard to take. "Grandma's" was a popular place.
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Re: Grit

Postby Philip Hudson » Mon Aug 12, 2013 12:37 am

The Good Doctor knows the following. He just didn’t want to bore you with the details. For the sake of a worldwide forum I should say that when an American says corn she/he almost always means Indian corn.

Grits are not exactly finely ground corn. Grits are made from corn. Ground corn is called cornmeal and it is fairly coarsely ground. Wheat flour is finely ground. One can make cornbread, johnnycakes, hush puppies, mush (hasty pudding in colonial times), and many other things from cornmeal. Mush is a Red Neck word for porridge.

In order to make some things from corn it has to be first made into hominy. Hominy is corn treated with a mild alkali. The grains swell and the grain husk is sloughed off and discarded. Hominy is good straight or cooked many ways.

Hominy may be dried and ground. If it is ground medium fine it is called masa. Masa is used to make tortillas or as a thickening agent in chilli con carne. If it is ground coarsely it is called hominy grits or just grits. Grits can be wonderfully eaten as MTC described them. They can also be used to make other dishes. I like a casserole of grits with chilies and sharp cheese.

I have no favorites among the above. They are all like manna from Heaven.

Many other things are made from corn but they are not germane to this discussion.
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Re: Grit

Postby MTC » Mon Aug 12, 2013 1:15 am

"Gritology" for "gritophiles!"
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Re: Grit

Postby call_copse » Mon Aug 12, 2013 7:12 am

I've heard such things eulogised, but yet to taste what you might call the real deal. They are clearly popular though I have some trepidation considering any approach, thinking grits may be something you have to be brought up on to truly appreciate. One day mayhap :)
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Re: Grit

Postby MTC » Mon Aug 12, 2013 8:25 am

Found on a yellowed note in a vintage Southern Cooking book:

Be there such twits
Who love not grits?

Without our grits
We'd fall in fits!

Signed,
A Grit Lover
Last edited by MTC on Mon Aug 12, 2013 11:22 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Grit

Postby Philip Hudson » Mon Aug 12, 2013 10:18 am

Be careful with grits north of the Mason-Dixon line. They serve a horrible concoction in Pennsylvania and surrounding states called scrapple. It is grits mixed with bulk pork sausage and cooked like a pancake. Once, on the urging of a very pretty waitress, I took one bite. That is something one has to be born with to like.
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Re: Grit

Postby LukeJavan8 » Mon Aug 12, 2013 12:21 pm

Delineating what I may be eating in the 'grits' category
is too complicated for me, I think I'll stick with oatmeal.
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Re: Grit

Postby gailr » Mon Aug 12, 2013 8:29 pm

Just toast, please. :wink:
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Re: Grit

Postby misterdoe » Mon Sep 16, 2013 1:44 pm

Philip Hudson wrote:Be careful with grits north of the Mason-Dixon line.

Depends on the cook. I won't touch restaurant grits here in the North, though that's where I'm from. Give me home fries. My almost-70 dad seems amazed that I eat grits and that I eat and even cook rice, since I protested it so readily in my teens and got out of eating it at every chance. (My SC-born-and-bred dad wanted rice every day at dinner. I don't cook it anywhere near that often...)

...horrible concoction... called scrapple. It is grits mixed with bulk pork sausage and cooked like a pancake.

I'd heard of scrapple before but never really knew what it was. Maybe that's a Pennsylvania German or an Amish thing? :?
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Re: Grit

Postby Slava » Mon Sep 16, 2013 2:14 pm

Pennsylvania Dutch.
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Re: Grit

Postby Philip Hudson » Mon Sep 16, 2013 4:10 pm

The Pennsylvania Dutch are from Germany. In the German language, Deutsch means German. The natives of The Netherlands are Dutch. Dutch is a misnomer for the Pennsylvania Dutch, although it is almost universally used. This is not an isolated case. Germans have frequently been called Dutchmen. Re: the "Lost Dutchman Mine." A German immigrant, Jacob Waltzs, claimed to have found a vast gold mine in the Superstition Mountains of Arizona. For some reason he never exploited it and people still look for it today.

The Amish are a small group of German Americans with an somewhat isolationist religion. They are a subset of Pennsylvanian Dutch. The Amish is an isolationist sect in the Anabaptist tradition. Baptists are not in the Anabaptist tradition.
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