Thursday, June 04, 2009

Grits: the Foundation of Southern Fusion Cuisine

Atlanta's has a good article on grits by Shane Touhy, the chef at Dogwood Restaurant and Charleston restaurant alumnus.

Touhy's description of Dogwood's "grits bar" illustrates grits' foundational role in what I call "Southern fusion"--that is, a variety of foods gathered from different subregions of the American South and rolled together into an upscale restaurant offering.

Dogwood's grits variations include (of course) the requisite shrimp-and-grits, and they bring in ingredients as diverse as Benton's country ham (Eastern Tennessee), Frogmore Stew (Lowcountry South Carolina), tasso (Cajun Country in Louisiana), an pimento cheese (which I think of as a Midlands South Carolina and Georgia specialty, but I'm not sure exactly where it originated.)

It's an appropriate role for grits, for what food could be more representative of how today's chefs have taken once-humble fare and elevated it to the realm of high cuisine?

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