Articles / Making Polenta Does Not Need to Be a Big Deal

Making Polenta Does Not Need to Be a Big Deal

Published January 24, 2024

It’s all about the slurry

Photo: Getty Images

Before we get into cornmeal, I want to mention tofu, and ​today’s episode of Food with Mark Bittman with tofu evangelist — and one of the authors of Broken Cuisine: Chinese tofu, Western cooking, and a hope to save our planet​George Stiffman​. George started on his tofu journey when he went vegan and described to us his initial resentment of the vegan movement; he saw just three main options: subtractive vegetarianism (ham and cheese sandwiches, no ham), substitutive vegetarianism (meat-based dishes with plant-based proteins), and traditional vegetarianism (hummus and falafel; peanut butter and jelly).

Mediterranean Cherry Tomatoes and Chickpeas. Get the recipe here. Photo: Ryan Tanaka

This sent George down a rabbit hole, and he was lucky enough to end up living in China through a language exchange program, where he cooked in Buddhist restaurants, went to Chinese university, lived with — as he calls them — “local godparents,” and apprenticed in a 5th generation tofu factory. And that’s how the tofu obsession started. Fascinating conversation, fascinating guy.