Polenta Board

 The polenta board, this seemingly underwhelming yet well seasoned piece of scrap wood is the foundation for an equally simple meal of boiled corn meal with some salt, otherwise known as, polenta. Vaguely reminiscent of grits, this starchy yellow boiled mass becomes a vehicle for tomato sauce. This particular polenta board belongs to my maternal grandparents, otherwise know as my Nonno and Nonna. My Nonno and Nonna arrived in New York,  from Italy  in the in fifties and sixties, Nonno came first, then Nonna. The two found eachother in America, both living in an Abruzzese neighborhood in Tarrytown, NY. When the board comes out, it is always an affair to be remembered.Throughout the meal we joke and gossip, and Nonno and Nonna tell us the proverbial “old country stories.” I have learned that polenta was a staple food that my Nonno subsited off of during the fascist occupation, something they fed themselves and their livestock with. Nonna once saw polenta on a menu in a restaurant and it cost nearly twenty dollars, it makes the meal all the more fun knowing that someone is willing to pay that kind of money for such a humble dish. Sometimes the polenta board becomes the pasta board, sometimes it’s for cookies. Whatever the use, this simple wooden board has been an essential tool for my grandparent’s to share their experiences with us.  

Place(s): New York, Italy

– Chris

Relationship:  Grandchild of im/migrant Grandchild of im/migrant