May 5, 2011

Rockahominie, Hominy and Grits

Grits is one of those American foods that people don't think about when trying to identify "American Cuisine." Grits is essentially parched, ground corn porridge and was introduced to the settlers at Jamestown as Rocahominie.

 The name "grits" comes from the terms used to define the grain size of sand and grain particles. In the early 1800s it was known as "grits," "groats" or "fine hominy." Fine Hominy seems to be the most common term but don't confuse it with what we know as hominy today, which is hominy before it is ground. 

Today it is seen as a Southern food but it was eaten by the Shawnee in modern-day West Virginia and the European colonists in the coal regions of Pennsylvania. Foreigners commented that it was a popular food in all regions of the United States. It was popular all through the 19th and 20th centuries but today the majority of grits is sold in the South.

I was originally researching this as part of a short study on Civil War Era foods that do not have to be refrigerated. We have an event next week where I will be the only lady present in my group and I am considering giving the men period rations. :D It would never be allowed with the other ladies but the men have fun with it sometimes. I'll eventually write up a post of period food that does not have to be refrigerated and how modern inventions can help with the things some people have to have (coffee creamer, eggs, meat ect.)

We are going to be down south and it looks like grits are on the menu. In her diary, Sarah Morgan, a wealthy Southern refugee during the war noted on March 21st, "To be hungry is there an every day occurrence. For ten days, mother writes, they have lived off just hominy enough to keep their bodies and souls from parting, without being able to procure another article-- not even a potato."

Grits is one of those foods that we just never thought to cook at a reenactment but is a good food as it doesn't have to be refrigerated, can be kept in a period container without risking the integrity of it and a small amount makes a lot of food. 

You can also tell the spectators how sick you are of hominy. 

P.S. I am using "grits" in the singular as in "a bowl of grits." There are no set grammar rules for grits.


  1. I didn't know that hominy is the same thing. my unit always wanted to brings grits but no one could find a period source or recipe for them. Thanks!

  2. Yay! now we can officially bring grits. This should have been obvious, it is such a southern iconic food.


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