Shrimp and Grits

Discovering the Roots of Grits and the Iconic Shrimp & Grits at The Waterfront Restaurant

Grits, a quintessential Southern dish, has a rich and deep history. Its origins trace back to the Native American Muskogee tribe, who prepared Indian corn in a manner similar to hominy. Traditionally found in the southeastern woodlands, the Muskogee ground corn in stone mills, resulting in the “gritty” texture we recognize today. Settlers in the region adopted this preparation method, as hominy was even used as a form of currency. Additionally, descendants of West African slaves known as the Gullah Geechee also mention meals resembling shrimp and grits. These Gullah slaves received allowances, including grits, and made the most of their coastal resources by catching shrimp and other fish to cook alongside grits.

While grits had a long-standing presence in Southern cuisine, the popular combination of shrimp and grits in upscale dining is relatively

Shrimp and Grits
Shrimp and Grits

recent. In 1982, Chef Bill Neal at Crook’s Corner in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, revolutionized the dish. His recipe featured cheese grits infused with cheddar and parmesan, topped with jumbo shrimp, mushrooms, bacon, and other flavorful ingredients. When Craig Claiborne of The New York Times visited and published Neal’s recipe in 1985, shrimp and grits gained widespread popularity. By the mid-1990s, it had spread throughout the South and appeared on fine dining menus as a dinner entree. Variations abound, from spicy Cajun versions to those topped with barbecue sauce or sticking to the traditional recipe.

Now, let’s talk about The Waterfront Restaurant on Anna Maria Island. This picturesque eatery offers its own delightful twist on shrimp and grits. Their version features:

  • Succulent, perfectly cooked Gulf white shrimp.
  • A savory and spicy chorizo blend for bold flavor.
  • A crispy grit cake that adds delightful crunch.
  • Roasted red peppers for a tangy and sweet note.
  • A creamy Parmesan sauce that ties all the flavors together.

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The Waterfront Restaurant’s location overlooking Tampa Bay provides a stunning backdrop for indulging in this classic Southern dish. With its unique blend of flavors, it’s no wonder why locals and visitors alike rave about their shrimp and grits experience.

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