Trivially Speaking: Polenta originated before Italy had cornmeal

Jan 24, 2023 70

After lo these many years, I can’t slip anything past my clever editor. I should have known better than to try. I had no sooner submitted my column on fried mush and grits than I received a response. She wrote: “But what do you think about polenta? Your mother’s cornmeal mush strips sound a lot like polenta, except there’s usually cheese (always makes everything better) and sometimes marinara sauce.”

And just as it happens in bridge, she preempted my bid. Culture along the lines of food tastes came slowly to South Dakota. To us then, Chef Boy-Ar-Dee represented Italian cuisine. And so, my mother, good cook as she was — she always made things that I liked, which I did not consider spoiling me — was not aware of polenta in the 1950s.

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