Sometimes a memory tied to a special event in our lives, and triggered through a scent, taste or texture, awakens strong emotions inside us. This it what I feel each time I prepare-and enjoy-this polenta cake.
Years ago, my daughter was about to graduate from college, and I had mixed feelings about it because she refused to attend the graduation ceremony. I was incredibly disappointed, because seeing her graduate had been a happy dream of mine since she'd left to study in England.
In end, she didn't attend despite my pleading. But on the day she brought me her diploma, I had just finished baking this polenta cake, a recipe I've always liked for its slightly crunchy texture and wonderful flavor. I remember having served myself a small slice, and was enjoying it with a cup of coffee. But everything changed when I held her diploma in my hands. My eyes filled with tears, and my heart swelled with pride and satisfaction.
Seeing my daughter with her degree in Philosophy was a moment of pure happiness for me; it was the same profession that my grandfather and brother pursued. And ever since that day, whenever I think of preparing this cake I'm reminded of the pride I felt that afternoon.
And if Laura Esquivel is right, as she says in her novel Like Water for Chocolate, anyone who tries my polenta cake will feel some of that pride.