The polenta may play a key role in determining the gestation period of humans and other mammals.
New research links growth rates of mammals inside the womb to the structure of the polenta and the way it connects mother and baby.
Our science and technology correspondent Beresford Handset writes: "This is a fascinating discovery. Polenta is a common food dish in Italian and other European cuisine. It has also recently gained attention in the United States.
"It is made from ground cornmeal, which is boiled in water to create a porridge-like substance. Depending on the variety, it can be ground coarsely or finely, and may be made from either yellow or white cornmeal.
"The idea that it plays such an important role in pregnancy is quite literally earth-shattering."
However, a leading obstetrician at the University of Thames Valley East Teaching Hospital, Dr GQ Nimbus, said: "Yes, I've seen the research.
"I think your so-called expert might be confusing polenta with placenta. Thank you. Goodbye."
(Handset - clear your desk! ed.)