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Old 03-21-2011, 07:51 AM   #1
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Polenta - Yeah, Right!

I'm amazed that foodies go ga-ga over adding polenta to their dishes. Polenta is the the Italian name for porridge, cruel, cornmeal mash, cornmeal mush, peasant food, and even some names that I should't say in public or nice company! IT'S BOILED CORNMEAL! The poorest of the poor man's dishes! Culinarily I would rank it below a single slice of white bread.

As I was growing up, my dad, who is NOT a cook, would cook cornmeal, let it set over night and then slice and fry it the next morning as breakfast, served with butter and syrup before we headed out for a day of fishing.

It carries no flavor of its own, and is about as bland as any food on earth. It's a filler - period. Perhaps it could be a textural thing, but that's about all. In a supermarket I've seen it come prepared in a roll the size of liverwurst. Why? They sell you 3 cents of cornmeal for $1.98!!!!! If you can't boil cornmeal yourself and refrigerate it over night, then maybe you should stay out of the kitchen. The skill level is right up there with making toast.

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Old 03-21-2011, 07:55 AM   #2
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ROFL!!!

Good Morning, Selkie!

I agree, it's a no-brainer...but, it does add something to some meals and it does take additions rather well.
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Old 03-21-2011, 08:29 AM   #3
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Personally, I like polenta a lot. It's a blank canvas for a creative cook.
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Old 03-21-2011, 08:36 AM   #4
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So, how would you describe pasta? Seems both are vehicles for sauce or toppings. However, you can add herbs and cheese to polenta while cooking to give it some personality! Can't do that with a box of dried pasta. Add some crisped pancetta, fresh greated parm and thyme. You have something that tastes great without being slathered in sauce or ragu. Could also say the same thing about potato gnocchi. :)

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Old 03-21-2011, 08:39 AM   #5
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I'm a huge polenta fan: 4 c water + 1 c polenta + 3 T butter + 1/3 c cream cheese = heaven!! I can eat it with anything and I can eat it alone.

Potatoes and rice were the first two things that came to mind as comparable and they are both the exact same way; there is nothing special about either of them until they're dressed up by a creative cook.
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Old 03-21-2011, 08:47 AM   #6
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I guess what bothers me the most about "polenta" is that, without the butter or cheese or any other flavor enhancer, some people treat it as though it's a gourmet item. Rice, potatoes, pasta by themselves aren't gourmet. Why polenta? It just seems very pretentious.
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Old 03-21-2011, 08:51 AM   #7
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Although I would never buy it, the premade polenta is just another of those "convenience" foods for those that don't want to take the time to cook it themselves. And I've never seen it for $1.98 a roll where we live, WAY more $$ in fact, which is also one of the reasons I wouldn't buy it besides the inherent preservatives in "convenience" food.

And I agree with the others, it's the same as rice, pasta, potatos, although I certainly would never say no to eating a bowl of gruel on its own flavored with herbs, pancetta, onions, garlic, etc., etc, with some cheese thrown in, or any of the others with the same combos mixed in.

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Old 03-21-2011, 08:57 AM   #8
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It's more a matter of exposure, I guess. It was certainly never something that graced our tables as I was growing up. I had never even had grits before until I moved to Seattle (which meant that I was at least 24) and it was probably at least ten years after that before I'd ever ate polenta. It's just having a revival.
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Old 03-21-2011, 09:05 AM   #9
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Then again, we all seem to forget the peasant roots of most Italian food that we love!

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Old 03-21-2011, 10:18 AM   #10
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I've never had polenta. I do however like a plain slice of white bread.
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