Taken from wise geek.
Hominy refers to corn without the germ. It is served both whole or ground. Hominy is boiled until cooked and served as either a cereal or as a vegetable. Hominy may also be pressed into patties and fried. This dish is especially popular in the southern United States. Samp
is another name for coarse hominy. Hominy ground into small grains is sometimes called "hominy grits
American colonists used the words "hominy" and "samp" interchangeably to mean processed corn. The colonists, unfamiliar with corn, had to learn from the Indians how make the tough grain edible. The pioneers prepared hominy by soaking the kernels in a weak wood-based lye
until the hulls floated to the surface.
Colonists usually kept both a samp mill and an ash hopper near their kitchens. A samp mill was a giant mortar
and pestle made from a tree stump and a block of wood, which was hung from a tree branch. The branch acted as a spring. The samp mill was used to crack hard kernels of dried corn into coarse meal. The ash hopper was a V-shaped wooden funnel. Wood ashes were put into the funnel, and then water
was run through the funnel to make lye. The lye was then used to soften the corn hulls and create hominy.
traveler in 1668 once described hominy as similar to the English
dish, "Hasty Pudding
." Hasty pudding and hominy were the instant cereal of colonial times.
The word samp fell out of use but the word "hominy" was eventually joined with the word "grits" in the American South. In the rest of America, hominy referred to the whole kernels which were skinned but not ground; in most of the South, "hominy" came to mean the coarsely-ground skinned kernels used to make the dish known as "hominy grits" or plain "grits."
In New Orleans
, the whole kernels are still called "big hominy" and the ground ones are known as "little hominy."
In the American Southeast, grits are eaten with everything--country ham
, shrimp, fried fish
, eggs, cheese, gravy
, etc.--to this day.
In the Southwest, big hominy is called "posole," and it is used to make hearty stews of hominy, chile
peppers, and pork. Southwesterners and Mexicans will also grind small hominy until it is very fine and use it for tamale and tortilla dough.
The essence of good grits lies freshly milled whole-grain products, which helps to retain the flavor. Quick or instant grits are available.
Polenta and grits are the same. Polenta cost more.