Last weekend, in a rash and incredibly stupid moment, I decided to visit my boyfriend who is at university in Bristol. Despite the fact that he is in his last year and a good 5 years older than most of the Freshmen he decided to celebrate his first (and only) free week of his last year by painting the town red. It would seem that simply rubbing shoulders with the university newbies was enough to contract the dreaded Freshers Flu. What did he do then? What any loving boyfriend would do, he gave it to me.
You probably won’t be very surprised to hear that losing my appetite to Flu is probably one of the most nightmare enducing things that could happen to me and happen it did. I didn’t eat for 4 days straight, bar a grape here or there. When I was finally lucky enough to hear the smallest of rumbles from my now VERY empty stomach, I needed something comforting, gentle and warming.
I needed polenta. Delicious, warming cornmeal that looks like and has the texture of baby food, but don’t let that put you off. It is easy to make, (bear in mind I still had a raging fever at this point) and will do nothing but make you feel all toasty and glowing inside.
I had a small bag of cornmeal in my kitchen cupboard (I am aiming to one day own a Nigella style larder) and simply followed the instructions, or followed them as far as my control freak mind would let me. Instead of boiling water I used chicken stock and added rosemary, a knob of butter and a generous handful of parmesan towards the end – the package only suggests the butter.
As comforting and warm as porridge and as savoury and familiar as your favourite pasta dish, polenta is officially my ultimate comfort food. The other great thing about polenta? Cook as above and then spread onto a baking tray about 1cm thick and leave to set. When it is at the point where it is almost firm but gives a little when pressed slice it up and fry in olive oil until golden brown. Whilst hot sprinkle with salt, rosemary and parmesan and serve. Delish.