Cathy Salter

There is always a story that connects us with food. And sometimes there is a book as well. In this case, it’s Delia Owens’ 2018 novel “Where the Crawdads Sing”—a coming-of-age story, mystery, legal drama and love story that topped the New York Times bestseller list in 2019 and remains a bestseller today. In the story, Kya Clark lives in a shack in a coastal marsh region of North Carolina. At the age of ten, she is left completely alone to fend for herself. Fiercely independent and a keen observer of the natural world, Kya learns how to survive with little help from the residents of the nearby town of Barkley Cove. What she has is true grit and a recipe for survival.

One of Kya’s earliest memories is of her mother cooking grits every morning for breakfast. “I don’t know how to do life without grits,” Kya muses. To survive on her own, grits become her daily sustenance. At the town diner in Barkley Cove, shrimp with pimento-cheese grits are the cook’s most popular specialty. An unanticipated connection to this story came to light when I was invited to join a discussion of Owens’ novel a few months ago. Frankye Merle, a member of the book club, brought everyone a package of white corn grits—organically grown on the fifth generation McKaskle family farm in the upper South Missouri bootheel town of Braggadocio where she grew up. Knowing little or nothing about grits, I did some reading up on the subject.

~ Read more in today’s Journal ~