Featured photo: The shrimp and grits served at Abby Singer’s Bistro. Photo by Jim Noetzel.
How, exactly, did shrimp and grits become a Louisiana thing? I’m not sure. The dish has its origins in South Carolina’s Low Country region, where it was served as a fisherman’s breakfast. Over the years, shrimp and grits has become a staple offering at restaurants throughout the South, including here in Shreveport-Bossier. Locally, you can taste several very different interpretations of shrimp and grits. One of my favorites in the city, and a current food obsession, is the version served by Chef Ernestine “Tootie” Morrison at Abby Singer’s Bistro. It is one of the simplest versions of shrimp and grits that I’ve ever tasted. And that’s a good thing.
A distant cousin to some of the more complex versions of shrimp and grits – many of which include bacon, various cheeses and chopped onions or mushrooms – the Abby Singer’s Bistro version ($15) doesn’t muddle the taste of the dish by including too many things. Cream, dill and lemon are the primary flavors that leap out at you, as well as the clean, bright flavor of the shrimp. Well-known food writer John T. Edge wrote this essay for Gourmet back in 2000, basically decrying fancy takes on shrimp and grits. I think the version served at Abby Singer’s Bistro is the kind of interpretation that Edge would approve of, despite the fact that it is garnished with parsley.