At the Deli and the Roadhouse
By Ari Weinzweig
In his wonderful book The Unprejudiced Palate, Angelo Pellegrini writes: “I have sought and found the significance latent in little things.” I agree. One of the best things I can imagine eating as the weather cools is a simple bowl of the exceptionally excellent grits that we get from Anson Mills in South Carolina. Topped with a bit of butter, maybe a touch of grated cheese, and definitely a good bit of freshly ground black pepper (I’ve been loving the 5-Star Black Pepper Blend from Épices de Cru), Anson Mills’ grits are really an exceptional meal.
These are grits the way they would have been two hundred years ago. They taste and smell of corn! Sadly these historically sound grits nearly passed out of production. Glenn’s original search started in 1995—he explored rural back roads looking for the old Carolina white corn. He remembered his mother eating grits all the time when he was a kid. Near Dillon, SC he found an old bootlegger’s field where he discovered the corn that is now the basis of all the great Anson Mills grits we get. It’s called Carolina Gourdseed White and dates back to the 1600s!
A big part of what makes Anson Mills products so exceptional is the cold milling process that Glenn uses. Everything is designed to keep temperatures down and, in the process, protect the flavor of the corn (or the rice). The corn during the milling stays very cool—never gets above 58°F. By contrast, mass market milling basically “cooks” the corn during the milling, killing all the live enzymes and most all of the flavor. Anson Mills pumps carbon dioxide into the mill in order to keep oxygen off of the corn, preventing oxidation and protecting flavor (this is much the same as is done with wine by using nitrogen).
Warm, filling, comforting, cozy. Fantastic finish. When I’m feeling down, a bowl of grits will bring me up. In the N.Y. Times a few years ago, Glenn framed it this way: ” Great corn is like great wine.” I agree wholeheartedly. An exceptional meal at any time of the day!
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