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In Musings

By Lindsey

Giving thanks with corn

On 27, Nov 2014 | No Comments | In Musings | By Lindsey


As I get older, a lot of the things I’ve held to have proven false.
That has never happened with grits.
I still believe they can heal all from hunger pains to a few too many the night before. Oh, they are great for neasau, just make sure and spoon in enough butter.
I like them thick and runny or any way between, really, their consistency in my bowl only depends on how long I’ve looked away from the stove.
To me they can be a side dish or the main meal. Nothing fancy. No need for cheese or shrimp. I’ll take them plain with some salt and butter. It’s a convenient taste that has been passed down many generations. I’m not sure if any of my roots go back to the Mayflower, but I was intrigued reading about pilgrim food this thanksgiving night. I’ve had plenty of hominy (don’t like as much as grits), but I’d never heard of Samp. Did a little reading on the ground corn ingredient, and found it just isn’t as finely ground as my beloved grits. Apparently, their origins go back to the Indians or, to avoid confusion with my favorite ethnic food, I should say Native Americans. They sure knew how to make wonders with corn. Samp is still served in African cuisine and, if I had to guess, trendy new-south restaurants.

This recipe I found tonight goes back to the Pilgrims who I’m sure got it from their Native Americans friends. Reads to be like a coarsely ground bowl of grits with milk and sugar. Dessert or side dish? The history of our dishes is just fascinating.


This recipe is the English version of the Native Nasau mp recipe above. The word samp is a simplified English version of the word nasaump. The description below comes from the 1600s book Two Voyages to New England, by John Josselyn.
“It is light of digestion, and the English make a kind of Loblolly of it to eat with Milk, which they call Sampe; they beat it in a Morter, and sift the flower out of it; the remainder they call Hominey, which they put into a Pot of two or three Gallons, with Water, and boyl it upon a gentle Fire till it be like a Hasty Puden; they put of this into Milk, and so eat it.”
Modern Version
2 cups coarse corn grits – available from Gonsalves or Goya at many grocery stores
4 cups water
1 cup milk
¼ cup sugar
Bring water to a boil in large saucepan with a heavy bottom. Add the corn grits and stir. Simmer until they are soft, about 10 minutes, and the water has been absorbed. Serve with milk and sugar.

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