5-tonne, world-record polenta made by Windsor Italian club

CBC Windsor Morning's Jonathan Pinto finds out what it takes to make a record-breaking polenta at the Fogolar Furlan club in Windsor.

Fogolar Furlan club in Windsor regains Guinness World Record for largest Italian cornmeal dish

The world's biggest polenta was made in Windsor, Ont., on the weekend.

The membership of the Fogolar Furlan club in Windsor consists of people who trace their heritage to northern Italy's Friuli region. According to club president Cesare Pecile, that means the club members "eat a lot of polenta."

Their enthusiasm for the simple dish was on full display this past Saturday when the club made the world's largest polenta in front of Guinness World Record officials. It weighed in at nearly 4.5 tonnes.

Polenta is a classic Italian food that consists of cornmeal (ground corn) cooked in boiling water. Initially, polenta has a soft, porridge-like consistency. As it cools, it gets harder, becoming more of an Italian cornbread. Polenta is incredibly versatile — it can be eaten hard or soft in a variety of ways. Some slice and grill it, while others top it with stews.

But why did the Fogolar Furlan club make so much of it? It was part of an annual event called Polentafest.

It started in 2011 as a way to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the club. An elaborately engineered coal-fired outdoor cooking area was constructed, featuring a vat that is 1.5 metres high, three metres wide, and holds more than 8,500 litres of water. That first year, a Guinness World Record-breaking polenta was made, weighing nearly 2,800 kilograms.

Another Polentafest took place in 2012, but no record was attempted. Last year, the club didn't even make a giant polenta. Then they found out that a town in Italy, Pianello di Cagli, had broken the 2011 record.

"They beat us by 1,700 pounds," Pecile said before this year's event. "So we're going to try to attempt to make 10,000 pounds this time, five tons. Which will be approximately one ton more than the current record."

On Saturday, the club used 90 kilograms of coal, 4,550 litres of water and nearly 800 kilograms of cornmeal to get there. Pecile says it's a group effort — with very little room for error.

"We have a team of 15 to 20 mixers. People around the vat. When we bring the water to a boil — which will take about six hours — we add the cornmeal in slowly, so it doesn't lump up. If it lumps up, we're finished. Once you get lumps, forget it — you can throw everything away."

Preparations began early Saturday morning and culminated with an official weigh-in mid-afternoon. A crane was used to lift and weigh the vat, which was overseen by a Guinness World Records official. 

Hear Jonathan's latest food adventure every Thursday at 8:10 a.m. on CBC Radio One - 97.5FM in Windsor, 91.9FM in Leamington, 88.1FM in Chatham & 90.3FM in Sarnia. Do you have a food, restaurant or dish that you think Jonathan should explore? Call (519) 255-3400, email or tweet him directly at @jonathan_pinto.


Jonathan Pinto is the host of Up North, CBC Radio One's regional afternoon show for Northern Ontario and is based in Sudbury. He was formerly a reporter/editor and an associate producer at CBC Windsor. Email


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