11. Pathetic Polenta

PolentaThe next day at work I was overwhelmed with self-doubt.

I emailed Burton. I was fishing for some communication — an indication that he wanted to see me again. I wrote, “I want to make that polenta.”

I probably sent that at 7am, so I wasn’t expecting an immediate response. And I didn’t get one. At all. By 3 o’clock I was insane with insecurity and followed up the a.m. email with the following — and be warned, it’s painfully humiliating; sometimes my emotions take over emails — “Have you changed your mind?”

He responded with “What makes you say that?”

“It was just a feeling I got.”

Polenta“But I don’t understand. 16 hours ago we were talking about how we had a nice evening so I don’t know what I’ve done between then and now that makes you think that.”

I panicked. I wrote something that was true, but that wasn’t the reason that I sent the original message, “Frankly, I kind of feel like I’m not damaged enough for you and that maybe I’m too boring.”

He didn’t respond.

Digging a deeper hole, I sent him another email: “I’m sorry if I offended you. I was just being honest.”

He didn’t like that.

“Characterizing me based on a uniquely difficult weekend isn’t offensive, it’s insulting.

I will admit to hitting the bottle hard and I regret revealing so much to you, but you don’t know what you’re talking about.”

He went on to call me insecure and punctuated the email with ‘Take care.’

I apologized, but he wasn’t having it. It was over. To make myself feel better, I made the creamy polenta.

Polenta is easy; it practically cooks itself. You leave it alone for most of the cooking time and occasionally stir things to keep it going. Then you add things to make it special, to make it yours. This method can also be applied to new loves. I pledged to remember the polenta for the next time someone I liked liked me back.




  • 1 TB butter
  • 1 ¼  cups water
  • ½  cup milk
  • ¼  cup heavy cream
  • ½  cup cornmeal
  • ⅔  cup sour cream
  • ½  cup Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

Over high heat, bring water, cream, milk and butter to a boil in a 2 qt sauce pan (with a lid if you have it). Reduce heat to medium high. Whisk in cornmeal and continue whisking for another minute or so to avoid clumping.

Reduce heat to low. Partially cover. Stir every so often for the next 30 minutes. Stir in parmesan cheese. Walk away for five minutes. Stir in sour cream. Walk away for another five minutes. Stir. Taste for seasoning. Add salt and pepper as needed. Don’t be afraid of salt. Serve.

Makes makes about eight ½ cup servings. If you have leftovers, you can experiment with fried polenta the next day.



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