I remember the first time I ate polenta – a type of porridge made from corn. I was a young boy at the time, with my family in the Veneto countryside when one could find old-style restaurants serving fish with polenta. Part of my family, on my mother’s side, is Venetian so we would regularly spend annual summer holidays in Treviso and Montebelluna.
It is possible to buy polenta in Brazil but it certainly isn’t the same as the corn-based food that I remember from my youth. The stuff here tends to be processed and ready to be fried, like chips.
While on a recent visit to Veneto, staying in Porto Santa Margherita, I had the opportunity to eat polenta but, again, it didn’t bring back the flood of memories. It was, however, certainly better than the usually fried polenta that I eat in Brazil.
The traditional method of producing polenta is a time-consuming one. The cornmeal has to simmer in a large quantity of water (ratio is approximately one part cornmeal to 5 parts water) with constant stirring for three-quarters of an hour. In restaurants today this process is too time-consuming, hence polenta is either not on the menu or is a speed-cooked version.
While polenta can be quite bland in taste the traditionally produced form has both distinctive texture and flavour. I suspect that the polenta that I ate on this occasion was produced by modern methods.