So, as far as I can remember, I was 19, saving for a wedding and fairly happy – and living off a ridiculously low income.
It was the year of the spaghetti fruit (it really exists – amazing thing, boil and twist in the manner of de-seeding an avocado and voila, spagetti like strands of vegetable- haven’t seen it since), many meals of mashed potato and fairy bread sandwiches. The year of plain pasta with salt, single roast potatoes bought from the supermarket as a takeaway dinner and cous cous, again with salt, occasionally with home brand margarine.
And then i came across Polenta….you have to remember these were the days before widely spread internet, where all my research on cheap food took place in budget cookbooks, but polenta fingers as a good solid base, plus tinned tomatoes seemed fairly gourmet , and birthday dinner worthy for my engagee.
So, i scoured the supermarket for this substance, found it, and followed the instructions to the letter. This was my first mistake.
Apparently Polenta (or this brand) needs stirring Constantly, or it turns lumpy, and no amount of beating, folding or swearing at the bloody thing will make any amount of difference.
Then when we tasted it – something had gone horribly wrong – charcoal mixed with Clag – warm Clag at that.
So the saucepan was abandoned in the skink as a disaster, filled with hot water and left in tears to soak till the morning.
The birthday dinner of tinned tomatoes on watery macaroni was gladly received, as was the packet of tim tams that I’d saved for. (saving for tim-tams – yes I really miss my teenage years)
But, Polenta, i believe could be sold to construction companies or the space program – the next morning when it became time to dis-polenta our one wooden spoon and our number two saucepan – it was impossible. Metal scorers turned into some kind of mushy metal haired lump, boiling water barely made a dent, the half bottle of detergent did nothing. By the two hour mark I truly began to believe that Polenta was some kind of secret Italian joke and instead they had sold me cement….by this stage the detergent fumes were making me dizzy.
That was my final venture into polenta, and the trauma has made me so wary of risotto that I am stuck over the stove stirring for 2 hours at any time I make it.
The resultant sculpture could possibly have been exhibited somewhere and sold for millions but was instead thrown (with much remorse) into the rubbish bin.
In my book anyone who conquers Polenta is a chef worthy of many michalen stars.