Polenta makes me feel like an asshole, but I can’t stop making it. Like the way that Giada over pronounces Italian words and Midwestern transplants start using phrases like “taking holiday” once they move to Beverly Hills, it feels disingenuous. Polenta is corn grits, I live in America. I pronounce croissant and mascarpone in a way that would make Europeans cringe but it’s authentic to my California upbringing. Shouldn’t I call it grits? But I can’t. I learned how to make this bowl of creamy comfort from the back of box labeled “dry polenta” and I’m sticking with it.
Although if we really want to dissect it, I’ve trashed up this corn meal in such a way that neither the Italian or the American South would want to claim it. Beer isn’t in any recipe that any Alabama or Sicilian grandma would approve, but maybe I don’t care as much as I should. Tradition is fine for holidays and sporting events but food is meant for evolution or we would all still be putting pineapple rings on canned ham.
As a culinary man without a country, I should just make up my own term. I can let Italy and the South off the hook and just call it something entirely different. Or I can just have a beer and forget about the whole thing.