Monday, December 22, 2008

Holy hell...


Ok, so I found them at a health food store called Follow Your Heart (locals refer to this place as Follow Your Wallet. I will do a cost comparison to see if it is cheaper than Whole Paychecks, er Foods). This was 2 bucks and change for 2 pounds, and is from Bob's Red Mill. There was another box from Arrowhead Mills that cost about twice as much, and I couldn't see the grain. I think that one is yellow corn, too.

It's not quite what I'd like it to be, though. For starters, it's labeled as "Corn Grits also known as Polenta". *sigh*

All right, twits. Yes, it's the same grain. Yes, it's a similar grind. HOWEVER: grits are usually white corn, and polenta is most often yellow. I cannot remember EVER eating yellow grits in my whole Southern life. That's not to say it can't be done, or shouldn't. But polenta can also be made from chestnuts or buckwheat. Not so much for the grits. I will allow that the colors of the corn can be different, but the preparation of the corn before grinding is entirely different. The hulls are first removed. Read on!

I found a lovely descriptor of the differences here:

What's the difference between polenta and grits? Grits are made from ground, dried white or yellow corn kernels from which the hull of the corn is removed by an alkali, such as slaked lime or lye.

Grits, or hominy grits, a specialty of the South, are prepared much like polenta, seasoned with butter, salt and pepper or cooled to a firm consistency, sliced and fried. Whole, dried hominy is known as posole in Mexico; when it is ground into flour, it is masa harina.

Well that's pretty damn clear to me that what you've sold me is not Grits, but Corn Polenta or Very Coarse Corn Meal. They are NOT one and the same! You can make grits using polenta corn, but it is less nutritionally valuable (the liming or lyeing step completes the corn proteins, and makes the nutrients digestible by humans), and harder to do. Not that I won't try, of course, but don't call it grits! That's a sin.

But I'm gonna make grits with this anyway. To hell with the nutrition. I want some grits!!

What this does tell me is that I might be able to make grits if I search the local Latino markets and find some posole... Ah, yet another challenge!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Welcome to the Guide!

I got to thinking a few weeks ago, which is a very dangerous thing. I was thinking that I wish that some one had made a guide to the Los Angeles area for folks like me - displaced from the South and yearning for home.

It's not just that these left coasters have no clue about grits (Denny's grits? Puh-lease!), or haven't ever heard of red velvet cake, or (gasp!) wonder why the hell anyone would want sweet tea, it's that so many of them have forgotten how to live!

Granted, each of those three points is a sin unto itself. I don't much believe in sin, but being a dyed-in-the-wool Georgia Peach, I've heard a thing or two about sin over the course of my life. If anything is a sin, there's some sinning going on in the City of Angels, and it's what they dare to call a tomato. As if that tasteless crap can actually be called a tomato! God made tomatoes and they sure as hell don't taste like this! Blech!

This city is full of cars, greener-than-thous, and money. And damned if there ain't a serious grit shortage! Money has got to be good for something, so why there are no grits in sight is beyond me!

Don't get me started on the smart-aleckey old bitch I served the other day who acted as if she knew everything in the world when she said that when you put sugar in tea, that makes it sweet, so every restaurant has sweet tea, and Southerners shouldn't complain. I refrained from telling her the science behind temperature, chemical homogeny, saturation points, and thereby the simple fact of chemistry and physics that illustrate that sugar doesn't readily dissolve in cold water. You dissolve the sugar in the tea while it's hot, so it'll be sweet while you put it over ice, dolt! It didn't help that she was an awful person anyway, and was raising hell about nothing because she'd been in jail the previous day. The things you find out as a waitress, I tell you what! Fortunately, her friends realized her cantankerousness, and they tipped me just fine! But I digress...

Now don't get me wrong, there are nice people out here. There are millions of residents in Los Angeles county, and so there have to be some good ones, just on the law of averages. However, the money proximity makes people think they have to act like big shit so people will think they're big shit. It's the kind of thing that will get you laughed at behind your back at every Southern potluck, but out here, your cronies would just nod and swear you're doing right. If you're gonna act like that back home, you damn well better make the best banana pudding on God's green Earth, or else everyone you know will mock you endlessly.

And speed. Don't get me started, they want everything FAST out here. Cars, girls, money, food. Few realize that good food is worth a wait. I've seen/heard people bitch about the most amazing 5-star restaurants with 9-course meals, and they had the nerve to call it slow. Were you expecting to eat that much in 45 minutes? Surely not! Ooh, popular restaurant on a busy night, with a party of 30 right next to you and you think you have a right to be served before everyone else in the joint? Think again!

Which brings me again to how many Angelenos don't remember how to enjoy life. Or, maybe they do remember, but there's just in a big 'ol HURRY to live NOW! Some are coming around, though. the throngs at farmer's markets every day give me hope. Some people want to know about the real taste of a tomato! I wonder, though, if I took a poll, how many of those market-goers are actually Southerners in disguise.

What I aim to do is this: enlighten the many by doing some key services! I'll hunt down good Southern, Soul, Creole, and Low Country food and let y'all know where to find it. If it's barbecue or fried pork rinds that are worth a damn, I'll let you know here. Locations of sweet tea? Yes. Best local grits? Definitely. And every once in a while, I might introduce you to an improvement, something that could make the South even more amazing, should it crop up there. I'll let you know what Southern food chains you'll find, and those you won't. I'll let you know what's interesting to see, and when not to drive in certain areas. In short, I'll make surviving a trip to L.A. easier, be it long-term or short-term of a stop.

And I just might find things that make me happier in the mix!

Y'all come back now, y'hear?