Polenta By Any Other Name

June 15th, 2009 at 5:01 pm by under Dale Chandler's View on Food

Have you ever gone to a restaurant and found a menu side item called “Polenta”? Polenta? I looked it up in the dictionary. It’s a combination of cornmeal, salt, oil and a liquid. Cornmeal, salt, oil and a liquid, hmm. For some reason, I remember another dish that has the same ingredients. Now, what was it? Think, think, think…oh. Could it be? Where’s my recipe card box? Let’s see, J, K, L, M…yes there it is, mush!

Mush, you know that Midwestern breakfast favorite, or not, that occupied space on your
dish on weekends? Mush, a combination of cornmeal, salt, oil and water or chicken broth, served with a helping of butter and maple syrup. Mush is Polenta, Polenta is Mush.

What’s the difference? None, well there can be a couple. The Mush, umm, Polenta served with your dinner may be “savory” meaning they have added herbs to the traditional mix. But they withhold the best part, the maple syrup. Its not cool to have maple syrup along side your New York Strip. It’s like asking for ketchup. So, aside from the herbs and syrup, your savory Polenta is breakfast mush. And Polenta is can be served soft, sort of like mashed potatoes, while mush is served fried in a patty form.

My wife loves mush. She might like Polenta too, I have never asked. Oh I forgot, they are the same thing. But she only likes the kind her mother makes. I once made it for her. Yep, went to the store and bought a tube of pre-made mush. I fried it up, served it with butter and syrup and she politely declined seconds. She didn’t understand why I didn’t try to make it myself. Lazy came to her mind, but in reality I knew that I could never compete with the Mother figure. That’s how I have kept in the mother-in-law’s good graces for 25 years! So I figured that store bought mush (it’s the same ingredients afterall) would be a close second. I thought wrong.

I wonder how her mom’s Polenta is?


One Response to “Polenta By Any Other Name”

  1. Chef Wendell says:

    Polenta: One of my favorite comfort foods. Ever add gruyere and virgin olive oil to yours? Outstanding flavor. Love the blog!