Month: April 2016

Polenta: A History

Every cuisine is built on a staple food – a starchy backdrop to the main event. It might be potatoes, rice, bread, or, if you’re from the north of Italy, polenta. Cheap, rib-sticking, and innately comforting, it is – as tradition dictates – the perfect starchy staple. Yet, ever since Elizabeth David introduced the UK to the idea of polenta in the 1950s (described as a “finely ground Indian corn meal”), it has failed to escape the middle class cupboard; lost in the shade of pasta and pizza. Even in some corners of Italy, this cheap grain has taken on chic status. An irony considering it’s rather desperate past.  Polenta first found its way onto the Italian plate two thousand years ago. Known as polemtum, the simple millet porridge was a staple for the Roman foot soldier, who would have to pound and boil a daily ration of grain. As centuries past and empires fell, polenta remained. With the introduction of buckwheat to Italy at the end of the fifteenth century it experienced a slight facelift, Read More