So the old joke goes - A Yankee finds himself in the deep south and having heard that the locals eat something called grits, asks the waitress for some. She says, "Hominy sir?". To which he replies, "Oh, I guess four or five."
After reading the recent posts on grits, I did some searching and found something interesting.
While there is a common understanding of what whole Hominy is - corn kernels that are treated with lye or lime that have had their hulls dissolved and have expanded to 3 times their normal size, the same thing as Posole - there is not a similar understanding that hominy grits is grits from hominy, while corn grits are grits from plain, untreated corn.
Many places in the south sell and refer to plain corn grits as hominy grits. The term hominy as applied to grits seems to be used to differentiate corn vs. rice or oats or other coarsely ground kernels.
In fact, in my searching, I have yet to find a site that sells actual hominy grits (that are clearly described as grits ground from hominy).
My understanding is that massa harina is finely ground hominy, and obviously, corn meal is finely ground plain corn. But Hominy grits are probably most often plain corn, just ground much coarser than meal.
Here's a quote from the Anson Mills site, below:
"Charlestonians have always called grits "HOMINY" - a shortened version of the old Carolina term for whole corn "HOMINY GRIST." In Charleston terms this definitely does not mean corn soaked in lye (who would want to do this unless they were really hungry), but it does mean fresh ground whole corn grist. Antebellum Hominy Grist was produced everywhere in Carolina and Georgia (there were an average of 40 mills per county here before 1860) by fresh milling corn then winnowing out only the hull to preserve whole corn nutrients, flavor & texture. So "Antebellum Charleston Style Whole Corn Hominy Grist" is the most flavorful and authentic style of "Grits" there is. Every year, at the International Grits Festival in St. George, SC, thousands of grits fans line up to get fresh milled hominy grist right out of the mill, but even at the St. George festival, they call this mill product "grits."
Oh well... smoked salmon vs. lox all over again...