Grits have been around since the Native Americans and refers to a ground corn-type food. The word is derived from the Old English word "grytt". There's your history lesson for today. I am choosing not to bore you with the other details, but if you want to know "all things grits", please check out the article on Wikipedia.
Here's another clip for your viewing pleasure.
Now, here's what you need to know. Self-respecting "Southernuhs" do use quick grits (not to be confused with instant microwaveable grits). Otherwise, not only would we be barefoot AND pregnant, we would be spending most of the day just trying to get grits ready for breakfast!
If you want smooth, creamy grits, mix some milk in with your water and let them cook on low heat for about 20 to 30 minutes, maybe longer, stirring continuously. If you let them sit without stirring regularly, they will pop all over the place. Sometimes the ratio of water to grits is not exactly precise on the box directions, so you will need to add more water to make them a little creamier as they cook -- they thicken quickly.
Grits are much like rice in that they do not have a flavor. They take on whatever flavor you decide to give them. If you add bacon or ham, they take on the flavor of the meat. If you add garlic or another spice, they will taste like the spice. There are so many good recipes using grits. Be sure to check out some of them on The Kitchen.
In the movie, My Cousin Vinny, Vinny mentions "al dente" grits. There is NO SUCH THING. Grits have to be cooked completely or you will paste your mouth shut and grits are horrible if they are undercooked. While I know that you can find grits everywhere in the south, I don't think they are readily available up north. While living in Texas, I had a hard time finding brand varieties of grits, so we would stock up and buy several boxes (usually about 9 or 10) when we would come back home to Alabama to visit. They store well in the fridge.
While I like my grits plain, with a little salt, the hubby does like cheese with his grits. We both love Shrimp and Grits...what self-respecting, grit-eating southerner doesn't??!! So, here's the million dollar question: how do you like your grits prepared and served? Notice, I didn't say IF you eat grits...how could you not??!! :-)