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Eat Pray Love and Fried Polenta with Crispy Garlic and Rosemary

I cried. I laughed. I sighed. And by the time I got to the end of Eat Pray Love wanted to give author Elizabeth Gilbert the biggest, squeeziest hug I could muster.

I love that woman, not because she is perfect or because I hold to all her beliefs and choices, but because she is so beautifully real, honest, and brave. And, most importantly, because her words reached into one of the darkest times of my life and shed a bright, radiant burst of sunlight that gave me hope that maybe, just maybe, I really was going to be OK.

Our backgrounds, lifestyles and worlds could not be more different, yet somehow she felt like a kindred spirit. She truly understood the terror of waking up and realizing you don’t belong in your world anymore, the inevitable fear, self-doubt and insecurity that follow as you try to figure out where you do belong, and the strange, beautiful feeling of discovering what you really love, really want to do, and who you really are.

We shared something else: a passionate love for travel and the incredible mind-expanding, soul-enriching, heart-healing impact it can have on a shattered life.

Strangely enough, I first read Eat Pray Love on a terrace in Italy overlooking vineyards, olive groves, and the Tyrrhenian Sea. I arrived with a broken heart, shaken faith, and a weary spirit,  and as I read the book and talked with my dear friends, I was filled with hope and knew I was going to be alright.

Needless to say, when my wonderful Canadian blogger friend Val of More Than Burnt Toast issued an Eat Pray Love Italian Challenge, I was delighted to participate.

I knew exactly what I wanted to make too. No five-course dinner or lavish antipasti spread, I wanted to make a Street Food I had first heard about from Jamie Oliver: Fried Polenta with Rosemary and Salt.

His version looked delicious, but I wanted to amp mine up a bit so I cooked the polenta with chicken stock, garlic and lavish amounts of ground black pepper, stirred in a mound of grated Parmesan cheese, and set it to chill. When it was cool I tore it into bite-sized pieces, tossed them with cornmeal and fried them until they were nice and crispy. Mmm! They looked so good, but I wasn’t done yet. I added fresh garlic and rosemary to the oil and fried them up until the garlic was beautifully browned, added them to the fried polenta and sprinkled everything with salt. Delicious!! Crispy and salty on the outside, creamy and savory on the inside. Perfect.

Fried Polenta with Crispy Garlic and Rosemary


6 cups chicken stock
2 tsp salt
1-2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1 3/4 cups yellow cornmeal
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup cornmeal
4-5 cloves garlic, sliced
4-5 sprigs fresh rosemary, removed from stem
4-5 cups vegetable oil


  1. Bring chicken stock, salt, pepper, and garlic powder to boil. Gradually stir in cornmeal, lower the heat to low and cook until the mixture thickens and the cornmeal is tender, stirring often, about 15 minutes.
  2. Stir in Parmesan Cheese and olive oil.
  3. Pour into large cookie sheet and chill until cool.
  4. Tear polenta into bite-sized pieces, toss with cornmeal to coat.
  5. Heat vegetable oil until polenta sizzles when dropped in. Lower heat if oil begins to smoke.
  6. Fry in batches until polenta pieces are browned and crispy. Drain on paper towel and dust with sea salt.
  7. When polenta is done, add garlic and rosemary to oil and cook for 2-4 minutes until garlic is browned. Drain on paper towel and dust with sea salt.
  8. Combine polenta, garlic and rosemary and serve warm.
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Simona - Very nice recipe. And I like all your photos!

Priscilla - She's Cookin' - Had to click! Saw your gorgeous polenta on More Than Burnt Toast. What a poignant post! Thanks for sharing – I’m definitely frying the polenta next time I make it.

Krista - I wish you were too, Elra!! There was another one, so I would’ve happily shared. 🙂

Anita - Mouth is watering. I must have this for lunch this afternoon!

Velva - Cheers to you! You are on your life journey. Remember life is about self-discovery and creating yourself.

Fiona - Eating this as I type and despite a few flaws in my technique (too little parmesan and too little veggie oil), I love it! Can’t wait to share it with my friends!

Gourmantic - Ooh… I ate this polenta at Jamie Oliver’s restaurant in London. So good to know I could replicate it, thanks to you 🙂

Ellie (Almost Bourdain) - Beautiful photos! Now I want to hang up my feet and read a book too!

Jacqueline - ps I love your little pink tootsies!

Jacqueline - EPL has been such a force in my life as well. I’ve gleaned new insights each time I’ve read it — my copy is well loved and well worn! That pivotal “bathroom” moment early on in the novel is one that is so common amongst women I know, self included. Can’t wait for the film. What a sock in the gut to know that sadly, Richard From Texas,has passed away … I still think of quotes attributed to him and laugh!!

Kitchen Butterfly - I have heard SO many good things about the book. As soona s I’m done reading ‘Cooking for Mr Latte’,I’ll look for one. Those rosemary polenta crisps look divine. Enjoy your weekend and we go from glory to glory regardless of the world around us. Each day is a step in the right direction. Love

Joanne - It’s amazing how powerful books can be and how much you can really connect with the author. I love your review and your dish! Polenta never fails to please my palate and my soul.

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Mary - You’ve made me curious about the book. I’ll “read” it as soon as the talking book is available at the library. I love your polenta recipe. I hope that the day treats you well. Blessings…Mary

Rosa - That fried polenta looks lovely! I really adore that flavor combination.



Fiona - Clearly a book and a meal I need to be digging into! (I do wish my view were slightly more Italian and exotic)!

Zita - My boyfriend came home from Hongkong and Guangzhou 2 weeks ago and the book, “Eat Pray Love” was one of his presents he brought me! 🙂 Currently I’m reading “Brida” from Paulo Coelho, but my next book is going to be “Eat Pray Love”!!! 🙂

This crispy polenta looks wonderful, I love rosemary and garlic so much! I’m going to make this as a snack!!!

Chef Dennis - wow…what a great way to make polenta! I have never seen it prepared that way!

bellini valli - Italian food is all about simple dishes, bold flavours and using what is in season. I love the fact that you have created such an amazing dish that personifies what Italian is all about. Thank you so much for bringing this dish to the Eat, Pray, Love Challenge. I would love to be sitting on the terrace of an Italian villa and trying these.

doggybloggy - that has to be about the prettiest fried polenta I have ever seen!

mlle paradis - all i can say is BRAVA! BELLA RAGAZZA! (sounds slightly more original than “you go girl!”

Meeta - i love that book. although i admit i read it in german and have been wanting to get my hands on it in english! fantastic read the book and THIS post. love the polenta the perfect snack with the book!

elra - Wish that I am the one who sit on that empty chair, looking over beautiful view 🙂

Krista - You’re very welcome, Jerusha! I’d like to hear what you think of it when you’re done. 🙂

Krista - Oh that’s great, Ungourmet! 🙂 I hope you enjoy it. The polenta is SO yummy! Not terribly healthy, but so delicious. 🙂

Jerusha Lofland - Thanks for reminding me that I need to read that book!

theUngourmet - I have that book sitting beside me right now. I must get started reading it. I’ve heard such great things. I LOVE the look of this polenta! I’ve got to try it!

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