I have a love-hate relationship with food.
When I was younger, I would eat anything, but before I knew I was basically killing myself because of my undiagnosed Celiac Disease. So when I think of comfort food, I have two different ideas on what will make me happy. If you had asked me this before my diagnosis, the answer would have been easy…BREAD! There really isn’t anything better than sinking your teeth into freshly baked bread. The crunch of the perfectly toasted crust is one of my favorite sounds, and this is coming from someone who hates mouth sounds. I was so jealous when I was in Ireland and couldn’t try the bread we had on the food tour.
If you do go to Ireland, you MUST try Blaa Bread. From just the smell, you knew the soft white bread, with the doughy insides, would make the most delicious sandwich roll. If you just can’t wait for lunch, you can spread some jam on it, and it’s the perfect addition to anyone’s breakfast. I remember watching my cousin bite into the sandwich, and she let out a very satisfied sound. I can’t put into words how jealous I was of her trying out a specialized bread that I’ll never get to try. I learned that just like Scotch, Champagne, and Bourbon, for it to be called Blaa Bread, it has to come from one of the four certified bakeries found in either Waterford or County Kilkenny, Ireland. Nightly these bakeries make, freeze, and ship out this beloved dough all around Ireland. It is highly recommended and agreed upon that the best time to eat the Blaa is within a few hours of being baked. Also, whatever you do, don’t you dare think about toasting it. The disagreement only comes when deciding whether a soft or crusty top is better.
While in college, I don’t know how many dinners would end up being a freshly baked French Baguette and a pound of asparagus. I would go to certain restaurants based on the bread they gave you while you waited for your dinner. A great cheap dinner to overindulge in was Olive Garden and their endless breadsticks and salad. I had no time for the soup. I needed all the room for bread. Another must was stopping at Panera Bread and diving into a bread bowl filled with broccoli and cheddar soup on a cold, rainy day.
Nowadays, things have changed. I’m not exactly sure how it came about, but lately, my sinful desire can be satisfied with a warm bowl of savory grits. But don’t get it twisted. I’m not looking for sweet grits. I am searching for a tasty bowl of cheesy and a little bit salty grits. Loving grits wasn’t an overnight thing. They really had to grow on me. When I was younger, I would turn my nose up to them. The first time I tried grits was when I was at the Green Market and stopped by a booth called The Purple Shrimp and tried their Shrimp and Grits. What made me finally try them was the fact that they were Cajun flavored. I was not prepared for how unbelievable the mix of Parmesan cheese and tomato butter sauce would be with the smooth grits. The steamed shrimp was just added goodness. It was love at first bite.
If I can’t make it to the Green Market, or if it’s out of season, my go-to place to indulge in some savory grits is Another Broken Egg. They have these amazing City Grits. If, for some reason, I don’t order them first, I regret it, and I always end up ordering them halfway through my meal. There’s just something about the way the Gouda cheese is melted with the bacon, green onions, and tomatoes that just makes my mouth happy. Basically, anything I eat now is for that moment and that moment alone. I don’t eat just to be filled. I eat what I enjoy because my options are so limited. I really hope that one day I’ll be able to find a decent, gluten-free, crusty bread, but until then, I’ll settle with a bowl of grits to chase the blues away.