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Editorial: How politics and a wedding come together over grits
I’m not sure what it all means, but it seems that the campaign for the Republican nomination for president of the United States is coming down to ... grits.
Let me explain. As I was trying to catch up with the news Sunday, I managed to scan the headlines to find out what I had missed in the world of politics over the last few days. You see, it’s rare that I would miss even a single day in the news, but it had been three days since I had even picked up any newspaper or heard a newscast.
I missed out on the news this week because of my son Keith’s marriage to Kellie Zidek on Saturday, March 10. This last week, and particularly the weekend, had been filled with the trappings of rehearsals, out-of-town visitors, and the wedding. There was no time for the news.
As I quickly scanned the San Antonio Express-News late Sunday night, one Associated Press story jumped out at me. Yes, it was a story about grits. The headline was “Gingrich, Romney differ over grits.”
There is a reason that headline stuck with me. You see, I have my own story about grits. It goes back to another wedding when my husband and I were married on Sept. 17, 1966. We drove to New Orleans for our honeymoon.
Those were the days when “blue laws” were still largely in effect, so as we traveled, there were no Walmarts or shopping malls open on Sunday. We needed a few things, so found a Rexall Drug Store and stopped to buy some necessities. It just so happened that they were serving breakfast from the little lunch counter in the corner, and it smelled good. We thought we would have some coffee and order breakfast.
As we perched on the black and chrome-trimmed swivel barstools, the cute little waitress asked:
“Do y’all want grits with that?”
“You know ... grits,” she repeated.
Puzzled, we asked her what that was.
Our perky little waitress was in disbelief, and proceeded to announce to everyone in earshot:
“These folks don’t know what grits is!!!”
It was impossible for us to crawl under our barstools, so we just sat there.
“Sure. We’ll have grits.”
To this day, we enjoy a good serving of grits whenever we can, and we do feel more Southern for having had that experience. (Unbeknownst to some, Texas is not exactly the Deep South. It is more Southwestern.)
The story in Sunday’s newspaper explains that Newt Gingrich was trying to impress the electorate with his deep Southern roots. He was making light, I later heard on television, of Mitt Romney’s boasting about eating cheesy grits for breakfast in Alabama.
The three candidates, Romney, Gingrich, and Rick Santorum, are trying to appear more Southern in order to win favor, and votes, in their primaries. Gingrich apparently equates a familiarity with grits to understanding the South.
I can see how that would be true.
But while the debate takes place over who knows more about grits, 16 Afghan civilians apparently are shot by an American soldier, and world tension intensifies. What all this says, I’m not sure.
Is this the result of American news media focusing on the trivial, or is it the American public more interested in the trivial than in substance?
Either way, I’ve got a story about grits for you.
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