These cornmeal dishes add savory substance to your prepared foods counter.

By Joanna Pruess

Corn is one of the most important New World gifts to the global cuisine. In the American South, stone-ground cornmeal, or grits, was a legacy from the first residents, and many Southerners say grits are a cornerstone of their cuisine. Coo-Coo (or Cou-Cou), the national dish of Barbados, is said to have arrived with early Bajan settlers from Africa. In Italy, even before corn arrived in Europe, ground dried chestnuts and farro were used in early Roman dishes that resembled the now popular polenta. Today, polenta is often served as a soft, creamy accompaniment for robust stews and ragus.

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