The most important thing is a capacious heavy pan, ideally tinned copper. Fill it three quarters full with water (3 litres: 110 fl oz) for ½ kilo (1 lb 2 oz) of polenta flour. Bring it to the boil, boil vigorously. Let the flour, fairly coarse, deep yellow, fall from your right hand in a fine rain, stirring with a wooden spoon with your left hand (unless you are left- handed). Stop pouring when it is getting really thick. Add salt and a dessertspoon of olive oil. Stirring hard, let it plop and splutter for 10 minutes, then lower the heat and cook slowly, stirring a good deal of the time, for say 30 minutes, by which time it becomes more or less solid (i e adheres to the wooden spoon when held aloft). Pour it onto a board to the thickness of say 5 cm (2") or more and serve with any one of the things already mentioned, or with smoked sausages, split and grilled, or slices of grilled zampone or cotechino.
Savina Roggero in I Segreti dei Frati Cucinieri has described several variations in the preparation of polenta in certain monasteries. This book would be of interest to travellers (many monasteries offer hospitality) and vegetarians (Fast-Day dishes are described), as well as to those interested in nourishment associated with a certain parsimony.
But returning to Carrara, I cannot abstain from describing the marble-workers’ favourite dish, a culinary example of‘piling Pelion on Ossa’, which in their dialect is known as polenton’.