17 Comfort Foods For Deep Winter

14 of 18

OXON HILL, MD – DECEMBER 10: Ruben Garcia prepares shrimp and grits at Fish by Jose Andres in the MGM Casino on Oxon Hill, Maryland on December 10, 2016 (Photo by Jennifer Chase for The Washington Post via Getty Images)

13. Grits

Another Southern American food — can you tell where I grew up? Sorry, I can’t help myself. But treat yourself to some grits, and you’ll see why I absolutely had to include these in the list.

Well, actually, grits aren’t exactly Southern. Before you get your pitchforks, I fully acknowledge that they’re super popular in the American South. No one’s getting between you and your grits – certainly, I’m not going to dare.

However, the dish has its roots in Native American cultures. Corn has been a staple of many tribes’ diets for millennia. For example, corn was first introduced into the Mississippi river valley around the year 800. Choctaw people there discovered nixtamalization, a process by which they added lye (usually from fire ashes) to corn in order to make it more digestible and nutritious. Today, grits almost always include some form of lye to take advantage of this process.

A 1952 issue of Charleston’s The Post and Courier proclaimed that “An inexpensive, simple, and thoroughly digestible food, [grits] should be made popular throughout the world. Given enough of it, the inhabitants of planet Earth would have nothing to fight about. A man full of [grits] is a man of peace.”

Recipe: Cheese grits (Alton Brown)

Healthy variation: Cooked simply (and maybe with the addition of some veggies), grits can be healthy. Consider cooking them in water instead of milk or cream. If you can bear it, scale back on the cheese and salt.