Thursday, December 8, 2011

Polenta 101

Why do so many people have an entirely nonsensical approach to making polenta (or grits or mealie pap or cornmeal mush or mămăligă or whatever you call it in your culture)? Why? Why, each time I have a new cook start working for me, do I have to unlearn him of bad habits? Why are recipes from Food Network, Washington Post, and the New York Times (respectable institutions all) just so nuts?

This comes to mind because I just stumbled upon these words of wisdom in The Virginia Housewife from 1824 which shows that somewhere along the line, somebody had common sense:

When along the way did we forget to mix the cornmeal into cold water to prevent it from lumping so that we didn't have to stand over the hot pot whisking constantly and vigorously while slowly dribbling the meal into the boiling water?

Cooks everywhere, if you don't know this technique, here is my Christmas gift to you.


  1. I have that same cookbook. Some of the recipes are surprisingly familiar like Chicken Tetrazzini and the availability of pineapples. "Nothing pleases as do the 'pine!"

  2. AND is some areas of the world they like the crust too....