Last week, the Southern Food and Beverage Museum (SOFAB) in New Orleans announced the launch of its new culinary dictionary: Nitty Grits. The most expansive and inclusive of its kind, nittygrits.org includes multi-language translations of food names from around the world. In recognition of Mardi Gras season, which is in full swing in New Orleans, one of the museum’s first entries is “King Cake.” Here’s the first definition that comes up when you type it in the search box:
A brioche-style cake of French and Spanish origins made traditionally in an oval or circular shape with dusted or poured sugar toppings. Named in celebration of the Epiphany this day also signals the start of Carnival Season. The duration of the king cake season extends from the end of the Twelve Days of Christmas, also know as Twelfth Night or Epiphany Day, to Fat Tuesday.
New entries are continuing to be added to Nitty Grits, which is based on the work of Suzy Oakes, who authored WhatAmIEating.com. Before her death in 2011, Oakes offered her work to SOFAB. The name Nitty Grits was chosen as a reference to the American South and phrase “nitty gritty,” referring to the dictionary’s set of facts.
Now, let’s see what it has to say about grits:
Ground hominy (corn kernels) which is used to make a porridge-like dish, often served with bacon and eggs.
And in Spanish:
avena a medio moler
Coarse oatmeal. Oat grits.
If you’d like to help contribute entries to Nitty Grits, e-mail [email protected], and stay tuned for an upcoming story on SOFAB’s new physical culinary library in New Orleans.