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GRITS – not to be confused with the delicious southern staple that comes served up cheesy for breakfast or with shrimp for dinner. This acronym stands for:

Girls Raised In The South

Cute, huh? I can’t take credit for it myself, unfortunately. I forget where I first heard it used, but it popped up again in a cute article I saw posted by one of my fellow Southern Women on Facebook a few weeks ago:

“The Life Of A Southern Belle: 14 Things You’ll Never Understand Unless You’re From The South.”

It was a very fun read, especially for this honorary GRITS, so you should absolutely give it a look. I was reminded of the article when I took a “How Southern Are You” quiz online yesterday and scored an 83%. I think that’s pretty good for a Displaced Debutante, but I had to wonder what kept me from getting 100%. I turned to the article for some clarification.

  1. College Football: Check. As a southern woman I absolutely love the Ole Miss Rebels, and the article is exactly right: a southern woman loving her SEC team doesn’t always mean that she actually attended the college (my alma mater sold “NYU Football” t-shirts to be ironic… we didn’t have a team) but both my parents went to Ole Miss and since moving back to Oxford Ole Miss Sports have become a much bigger presence in their lives. The article is also right in saying that even if southern women don’t like sports they love SEC Football, mostly for the gourmet tailgating and “game day outfits” (I look great in Red and Blue), and usually more than their pro team. This last bit is very true – as a New Yorker I couldn’t really care less about football, but I root for the NY Giants because Eli Manning is their quarterback… and we love us some Eli Manning. Hotty Toddy!

  2. Sweet Tea: Check. Delicious. Love it. Terrible for my waistline but wonderful for my soul. I can’t get it in New York though so I have to settle for the Arizona Sweet Tea cans. Those are little 99 cent miracles, let me tell ya.

  3. Grits: NOW we can talk about the food. Check check CHECK. I am PROUD to say that I have introduced the majority of my friends in New York to this ooey gooey goodness. The Tipsy Parson in Chelsea makes the most wonderful cheese and bacon grits as a side dish, and their shrimp and grits are divine. But the ultimate grits are the brown sugar and mascarpone grits at Beauty and Essex down on the Lower East Side. Sin. Pure sin. I go to brunch on Sundays and then straight to church ask forgiveness. But still – sometimes there’s nothing better than just some good old fashioned southern home style grits.

  4. Greens: Now here is where I show my true colors as only an honorary GRITS. I have never been able to get into the green scene!! Especially when I was little. Oh my grandmother would make me sit at the table for as long as it took till I at least had a bite of the greens. I did LOVE butter beans though… and they were green! Do they count? I’m more tolerant of the greens now, probably because, as the article says, we southern women season our veggies to the point that they don’t taste like veggies no mo’. And thank God for that!

  5. Taters, Mashed Taters, Sweet Taters: This I can’t condone. Again… showing my true colors. Now “Puh-tay-tuh” I can absolutely condone. Sweet Puhtaytuh Casserole, Mashed Puhtaytuhs… I know what those are. But taters? No thank you. No check.

  6. BBQ: Now this is interesting. There was actually a question on the quiz about what makes North Carolina BBQ different from other BBQs. Now I know that there is a difference between all the different styles of BBQ, but I must admit that I’m not 100% sure what all those differences are! Again… honorary.

  7. Cookin’: CHECK. Cookin’ is so important. Every holiday… my mother and I can be found in the kitchen cookin’ the meal. And the article is right about the quantity issue… we always cook as if we’re cooking for an army, but it’s usually just the 4 of us. I don’t cook the way I cook because I was raised in a big family, I cook the way I cook because almost every delicious southern dish I know how to make is a casserole, and you’ll be hard pressed to find a Pyrex sized for a single serving.

  8. Light’nin Bugs: I called them fireflies but yes… catching them in mason jars was absolutely one of my most favorite parts of the summers I spent in the south growing up. Check.

  9. Mason Jars: Speaking of… I love my mason jars. I use them for flowers in my apartment. I use them to drink out of. And most importantly, I use one to keep all my bacon grease in. Keeping bacon grease in a jar to use for cookin’ should have been on this list. I’m adding it. Check and CHECK.

  10. Beauty Pageants: Now I never did one – which I suppose speaks to my status as just an “honorary GRITS”... BUT, my mother was a Miss Mississippi and my father now runs the Miss America Organization so I think that more than makes up for it. So check.

  11. Whiskey and Bourbon: CHECK CHECK CHECK. Whiskey has it’s own tag on this blog. Need I say more? Makers on the rocks please. Or some Blanton’s if we’re celebrating. Drink like a lady but hold your liquor like a man. That's the rule.

  12. Dressing Up: Now I am INTIMATELY aware of this requirement we GRITS must fulfill. Even being raised in Los Angeles I wasn't allowed to leave the house without "my face on", and forget it now that my family is back in Mississippi! But having lived in New York now for almost 7 years things have become, well, they’ve become a bit more relaxed. It started in college. Some days it was just TOO HARD to be “fixed”, as they say, AND get to my 9am classes on time, especially when I knew I was going to be dancing all morning and would be a sweaty disaster by lunch ANYWAY. The trouble is that it’s creeping into my adult life, so maybe I’m less of a southern woman than I thought! I’ve gotten FAR too comfortable walking around my neighborhood post workout in gym clothes and without my face on. When did I let myself go friends? MDH taught me better than this. It stops now! Well... Maybe not RIGHT now. Next week. This will get a check next week.

  13. Words and Manners: Check. Y’all… Fixin to… This is a language I speak. Especially after plenty of that Makers on the rocks we talked about earlier. And “Bless Your Heart”… well I think we all know how I feel about that one :)

  14. Directions: It’s true that most southern towns are too small or remote to be registered by GPS, so if one requires directions they come verbally. I have never in my life said “over yonder”… but I have absolutely used “down the street” or land marks like “The Walmart” or “The Piggly Wiggly” to denote when someone should make a left turn. Always adding “the” before it because in any given southern town there is probably only just the one. Check.

My favorite part of the article though is that she ends it in true Displaced Debutante fashion. While I, or any proper southern woman for that matter, might fulfill some or all of these GRITS stereotypes, that doesn’t mean we necessarily fulfill all the other stereotypes as well. Not all of us go to school to get our MRS degree, and we don’t just sit around on porches wearing big hats, drinking mint juleps, and gossiping about people we attend church with, always keeping a “bless her heart” at the ready. We have dreams, we have goals, and we have minds that reach beyond worrying about what casserole we’re going to make for dinner. But that doesn’t mean we don’t still make a fantastic casserole.

And as for the 17% of me that isn’t quite so southern, I think I’ll let it hang around. It’s what keeps things so interesting.

With Grace and Good Humor,

My name is Mary Lane Haskell and my two "claims to fame" are that I have Dolly Parton's fax number and that Reese Witherspoon once liked a post on my Instagram.  I am an actor, a writer, and a profound Chipotle enthusiast making my way in Los Angeles while trying to stay true to my family's southern roots, all with grace and a touch a good humor.  I'm so glad you're here!


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