Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Alphabe~Thursday "G" is for GRITS

I am linking to Jenny Matlock's Alphabe~Thursday. This week is about the letter "G".

If you haven't already done so, you can stop by Jenny's blog and read some fun stories here:

"G" is for GRITS

Some of you may be thinking this post is about grits. You know the kind you boil in water, slather in butter, season with salt and pepper? Mm! Mm! Good! Oh yeah I eat them. And I love them! I even fry them up like fritters for dinner or breakfast the next day if there are any leftovers. They are grrrreat! The first time I cooked them for my husband he tried to put butter, sugar and milk on them. Such a Yankee.

But No, I’m talking about Girl Raised in the South (G.R.I.T.S.) I am truly a girl raised in the south. I am what you would call “Bona fide.” I was born here, raised here, gave birth here, and I’ll probably die here too!

I live in a small town. The house I grew up in didn’t have air conditioning. Most homes had jalousie windows that allowed for the most spectacular breezes, along with the mosquitoes too. My Jr. High school didn’t have air conditioning either. But the main thing I hated about jalousie windows was having to clean them, one at a time. It was a good chore for punishment!

Our family existed on a lot of wild game or seafood that my father brought home. I have eaten some pretty weird and wild stuff. Like:

Alligator. It’s actually quite tasty when fried.
Armadillo.  I ate this with yellow rice. Not something I’m quite proud of. But hey, how many people can say they ate one of those ugly suckers?
Wild Hog. One Christmas, when I was a little girl, my dad brought home a wild baby piglet in a burlap sack. He said the momma had been killed. When my father opened the sack, that baby pig hightailed it under our bed. Squealing and slipping and sliding on our 1950”s asbestos tile floor my mom kept polished with good ole caustic (when heated) paste wax. I guess it must have been entertaining to our father to see four little butts sticking out from under the bed while trying to catch a squealing piglet. We didn’t get to keep him.

Swamp cabbage. Basically it’s just Cole slaw made from the hearts of cabbage palms. Very delicious with fried Mullet. Yum-O! Florida even has a Swamp Cabbage Festival in La Belle Florida, and Swamp Cabbage Wrestling during Bike Week in Daytona. So I’m told. I’ve never been to either. Hey I’m not Rita the Redneck ya know! I just eat the stuff!
Cattails. I remember my dad cutting them when they were green and boiling them. He served them to us with butter (a southern staple) and salt and pepper. You know I once ate a whole stick of butter when I was a kid. I wonder why I did that.

Elderberries. Mom made a lot of Elderberry jam and wine. I don’t care for either. It has a…..funky taste. And believe me I know FUNKY
My sister ate some Possum (Opossum) once when dad was cooking it for his hunting dogs. Eewaaah! She even ate squirrel brains. I guess they are called sweet breads today, but these lips will never touch them. Shiver!! I don't eat weird stuff. Well, maybe I did in the past but I don't now! Honestly. I don't! 
My dad read a lot of Euell Gibbons. Gibbons was an authority on wild edible plants. Now I’m thinking maybe my dad used us as his guinea pigs? What the hay, I slept in a crib painted with lead based paint and drank from our garden hose, so what's the harm in feeding your child unknown plant stuff? :O
We grew a lot of edible stuff of our own and raised a few animals too. One in particular was a mean Shetland pony named Traveler. He came by that name honestly too. He bit and ran away at the drop of a hat. Little s**t!

One Easter Dad bought each of us girls a colored baby chick, a fad in the 50’s. Little did we know he would serve them to us on a platter one Sunday for dinner? Four crying little girls and one pissed off Mamaw. Our Mamaw Lena laid into mom and dad both for killing our pets and none of us ate fried chicken that Sunday!

When our little town turned 100 years old, all the men in town grew beards. Men, women and children dressed up in period clothes and celebrated the Centennial with a big parade. It was a big to do. Now that was community pride. Why everybody who was anybody was there!

But then things change. I'm not so crazy anymore about that word “Change”. I can look back and remember our friends losing their homes when the government pulled Eminent Domain to build Kennedy Space Center. Many people didn’t get near what their businesses, homes or land was worth. Entire communities were wiped out. All that is left are a couple of cemeteries and a few signs indicating where the communities used to be.

That change brought memories of playing in my the back yard and looking up to see unmanned rockets launch and fall back to earth and even explode when the Space program was just taking off. Now, I can look up and see the Space Station float through the sky at night or look across the river and watch Shuttle launches. As a matter of fact one is going up this evening. You have to be here to experience the rumbling of your china and windows when launches leave our atmosphere.

Change does bring about change, and all things come to an end, like this story and the Space Program. Perhaps what’s left of my little town will end as well. But this “Bona fide” Girl Raised in the South will still be here.

Photographs credits: G.Bortle


JDaniel4's Mom said...

How sad to see the community bought out and changed.

Deb said...

Very interesting! I've never heard of anyone eating cat tails but I love me some grits (NO SUGAR).

Marlee said...

I too am a girl raised in the south. I have never lived anywhere but the state of Missisisppi. Love grits...never eaten them as fritters...will have to try that...sounds yummy.

CollectIn Texas Gal said...

So fun to meet another GRIT! I'm a Girl Raised In Texas! Yep, just another Southern Gal just a little farther West! Loved this post for the Letter G. Must admit tho, I haven't eaten a bunch of the critters you mentioned. Grits...yes, on those!

Anonymous said...

Yankee here--through and through. I'm thinking I'd starve in the South.


A 2 Z said...

Oooh! I really loved your post. I did not want it to stop. Its so educational and entertaining. I felt I was part of the story (and I'm Canadian...LOL). I lived in Texas for a while but its hard to make new friends. I've also been to Florida but only experienced it as a tourist via Disney, etc. Thanks for sharing. Really enjoyed it!


marty (A Stroll Thru Life) said...

Such an interesting post. I was raised in Tex. and love grits. I like them for breakfast with sugar and milk. I know, not very southern. Thanks so much for your gracious comments and visit. I really appreciate it. Hugs, Marty

Dana @ Bungalow'56 said...

Oh so different from my Northern Canadian upbringing and home. This was so interesting. Thank you!

Gattina said...

Yikes, I hate grit and in milk, nothing for me. What poor strange animals you ate I thought the Armadillo was protected. As you say times change and nothing is as it used to be and in some way it's good otherwise we would all live in holes in the woods and run around in fur pieces, lol !

Nick Thomas said...

Speaking of wild boars..there were a lot out Tues, hoping to be elected.

Betty (picture circa 1951) said...

I enjoyed reading your post. You're a very good writer and it was very entertaining. I've always wanted to see a Shuttle launch...or any launch for that matter. I never thought about where the land came from for the Kennedy Space Center. I just assumed it was an empty piece of land. I can't imagine eating possum, armadillo, alligator, etc. I guess I'm a fussy eater.

Rocky Mountain Woman said...

This post made me lonesome for the South. I've lived there twice, once in Kentucky and once in Florida and loved the food, the people, the weather....

Viki said...

This was such a great and interesting post. I couldn't imagine even as a kid eating some of that stuff LOL. Who knew you could eat cat tails.

When we moved to this house I bought storm doors that had those kinds of windows. I thought they were so beautiful until I had to clean them. Then I thought what the heck was I thinking when I chose them LOL.

Sue said...

Fascinating read. It's sad to think that so many lost their homes to accommodate the Kennedy Space Center. I'm always a little uncomfortable about the government's right to do such things.


Cheryl D. said...

I had some fried alligator once! It was good!

Jo said...

okay ... tried gator ... yuck!!! never again ... but this was such an interesting read, and i never knew cattails were edible ... thanks so much for putting so much effort into this post, it really was wonderful!

Judie said...

I am a grits. Where I come from, we call armadillo possum on the half shell! I loved this post!!

RNSANE said...

I really enoyed your post. I was a GRIT, too....and I love grits, fixed every way possible and greens of all kinds. I've had armadillo and alligator and all kinds of good Southern eating and boiled peanuts till they come out of my ears...muscadines and scuppernongs..but I've lived in the San Francisco area nearly 33 years now and have been to 45 countries and 23 Caribbean isleands - and there is a fabulous elderflower liquour that I'll bet you'd like - St. Germain!

Jenny said...

What a wonderful link to Alphabe-Thursday.

I love the 'exotic' food stuffs. Imminent Domain always makes me angry. I hear of so many people losing their way of life and it ticks me off and makes me sad...all at the same time.

I really enjoyed reading about this way of life.

Thank you for linking.

And I may have to re-try grits again...never been a favorite but maybe I should give them another chance!


Pondside said...

Yikes, that is a lot of exotic food!
I ate grits when we lived in Oklahoma and never developed a taste - fried or otherwise. Give me oatmeal porridge any day!
So sad that a community is wiped out for something like the space centre. It happens, still, and it's just not right.

Christy said...

I live where a highway is coming through and scores of homes have been torn down - I "get" that the road needed straightened - very dangerous - but I hate that so many were misplaced especially the Amish - they have a much harder time relocating. Ok, I have eaten alligator but that is it - I am a GRIM - girl raised in the Midwest!


I really enjoyed reading your G post. I am just now getting around to perusing them and chose yours first because I am a grit lover. But, I am from Texas and the only way to eat them to us jack cheese hot. Yum! We had some for dinner last night....and that is all we had. I really enjoyed your critter line up. I had some of those little chickens once myself that came from M E Moses Dime Store. We bought them and hid them until we got home. I guess we sat in the back end of the station wagon and I am not sure why Mom couldn't hear them. Maybe she just pretended.

Jeanie said...

This reminds me a lot of my life. My dad was a great hunter ~ I've lived in east central Florida since 1955 when I was one year old.

I love your stories!