Soviet Grits

Tonight I went out on the town and finally tried the famous shrimp and grits that I keep hearing about on foodie TV shows. I’m familiar with the shrimp, of course. It’s the grits part that was mysterious to me.

Turns out grits are the same dish that was a staple of Soviet cuisine known as пшенная каша. I love it and still have tender memories of the clumpy burnt version of the dish that was served in Soviet cafeteria.

Nothing is ever really new.

16 thoughts on “Soviet Grits

  1. “пшенная каша”

    But (unless something has gone very wrong etymologically) that would be “wheat porridge” (something like Cream of Wheat).
    Grits are usually made from hominy, that is corn that’s been nixtamalized (treated with an alkaline solution which makes them healthier).

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      1. “Cream of wheat is like our манная каша”

        Now I’m confused…. I thought пшенная каша and манная каша would be more or less the same thing…. is the first more like bulgur or couscous?

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        1. No, they are very different. Манная каша is something only babies and small kids are given. It’s ground so finely that you basically don’t need to chew it at all. Пшенная каша isn’t ground at all. It’s boiled until it gets a creamy consistency but the separate kernels are still visible.

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          1. “Манная каша is something only babies and small kids”

            Yeah, that’s kasza manna in Poland (also used in desserts). African students used to eat it because it was the closest in texture to African porridges.

            “Пшенная каша”

            Now I get it! Пшённая! (thanks wikipedia! )…. after some googling I realize it’s not wheat at all, it’s millet! (kasza jaglana in Poland).

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    1. “Grits are usually made from hominy”

      …but don’t forget, there are also yellow corn grits, which are not nixtamalized, and which make the best cheese grits 🙂

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        1. Mamalyga is more Moldovan and that whole region. I’ve heard of it but never actually tried it. It is probably extremely similar to what I’m used to but the names are completely different.

          This is making me very hungry.

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          1. Mamaliga is much less liquid than grits – soft when still warm, can be sliced after it sits around for a few hours. You should try it though – traditionally it’s served with tvorog and sour cream, and a cracked salted onion the side , but any creamy, salty mix of dairy will work. Last time I had it it was as a side for a meat stew, and that also worked quite well.

            There’s also moldavian tochitura (mamaliga with some drier, saltier cheese, whatever fried bits of pig you have lying around that day and a fried egg or two on top) for when you have a hard day of physical labour at low altitude in front of you, and a shepherd’s preparation that involves mamaliga made with leftover…not whey, but a fattier liquid that’s left once you make the whey-based cheeses as well as the milk-based ones (jintita in Romanian, no idea how that translates) instead of water, + whatever cheese there is in the shepherd’s hut mixed in balls that are dried on the stove. That one is for when you need to cross the Carpathians walking the summer daylight with a heavy backpack on two fistfuls of nonperishable food a day.

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            1. “Mamaliga is much less liquid than grits ”

              For me grits shouldn’t be liquid or runny… I used to lightly grease a bowl and put leftover grits in it and then take it out of the bowl and cut it up and put the chunks in soup (they held together even boiling).

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  2. Personally this is one of my absolute favorite meals. There is just something about it where you eat a big bowl of shrimp and grits and then the rest of your day is just wonderful.

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