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The History of Shrimp and Grits: A Biloxi Favorite

The History of Shrimp and Grits: A Biloxi Favorite

There are some dishes that are just classic Southern staples. Gumbo, deviled eggs, turnip greens, and so many more come to mind. And the best thing about these dishes? They’re made even better with the delicious taste of Biloxi shrimp. Case and point: Shrimp and Grits.

Whether starting your day with them for brunch or winding down over a bowl at night, shrimp and grits are a standby Southern recipe with a rich history.

Perhaps one of the most remarkable things about shrimp and grits is how they’ve gone from relatively regional dish enjoyed by humble shrimpers to decorating the menus of high-class dining establishments across the country.

Most attribute the dish’s origins in the United States to the fishing communities of the coastal regions in the Southern Lowcountry, specifically South Carolina and Georgia. In these areas, modest fishing folk would take what they could gather and combine it all into an easy to make dish: all they needed were some grounded up and watered-down corn, some heat, and a bit of the tasty shrimp they harvested.

Since shrimpers’ work often involved them to go out on the water for long stretches of time, shrimp and grits made a perfect dish for what was known as a one-pot, a single pot where they would put all of their food for a trip.

Eventually, the dish found its way to the same kitchens where fresh-caught shrimp were being served, picking up unique variations based on where it was served and who it was prepared by. The most influential of all these chefs was Bill Neal, a chef in North Carolina, who collaborated with legendary New York Times food editor, Craig Claiborne (himself a Mississippian), to publish a story about Neal and an attached recipe for his shrimp and cheese grits. The rest is history, as that increase exposure led to the dish showing up on restaurant menus all across the South and beyond.

To this day, shrimp and grits remain a popular dish in Biloxi, so much so that it can be found as a staple in countless restaurants along the coast, not to mention in the home kitchens of many families.

Now that you’re more acquainted with the history of Shrimp and Grits, try making a bowl for yourself with one of our favorite recipes: Shrimp and Grits with Bacon!