After Pap showed me how to parch corn
-he told me about gritted bread. Pap recalls 2 types of bread being called gritted bread. The first was made by using fresh corn that had been allowed to dry slightly overnight or a little longer. A grater-usually homemade-was used to remove the corn from the cob. After mixing sodie (baking soda), salt, buttermilk, and an egg or 2 with the corn it was fried or baked and eaten as bread.
The other gritted bread Pap remembers was made from parched corn. As you can imagine parched corn was hard to eat if you had bad teeth or were lacking a few. Folks would grind or pound the parched corn into a very coarse cornmeal and make bread with it.
Since we don't have a grinder-I put some of the corn we parched in an old flour sack and took a hammer to it. Let's just say I got my work out. You can see from the photo-even after repeated hammering-the cornmeal was still very coarse.
I ran out of daylight and ended up with barely enough meal to make a cake of bread-but Pap mixed it up for me anyway. He added buttermilk, salt, sodie, an egg, and a little oil to make a batter.
Since we ended up with such a small amount, Pap decided to use his cast iron spider pan. As it turned out we had more than we thought and were afraid the batter would run out of the pan-so we stuck it in the oven to finish cooking.
About 10 minutes later we were eating gritted bread. Did I like it? Not really. It tasted a little like hominy
which I like-but I just couldn't get over the texture of it. I suppose if you ate it all the time you'd become accustomed to the taste and texture-but for now I'm sticking with cornbread.
As I knelt outside in the cold, pounding the corn with dark coming on fast, the saying "idle hands are the devil's workshop" came to mind. When I went back in the warm house, I told Granny, "I can see why there wasn't as much meaness going on when you and Pap were children-it would have taken so much time for folks to make sure they had enough food, water, and wood that they wouldn't have had time to be mean." Granny said "Yes that is true, that is the way it was. And it makes me wonder if the ease at which we live life today is for the better." Granny may have a point.
Ever heard of gritted bread? To read more about Appalachian Culture and Heritage please visit me at www.blindpigandtheacorn.com
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