My husband’s job as a marine biologist comes with certain geographical requirements. Fortunately, we love living by the ocean, and we’ve bounced from beach town to beach town.We’ve grown close to amazing friends in each spot. Happily, scientist friends we’ve met along the way have similar geographical requirements, and so, not so coincidentally, we often find ourselves together again in a different beach town. When we lived in Santa Barbara, CA, our friend Carrie and her husband moved there from Pacific Grove, CA, — our former home — after she finished her Ph.D program. Carrie headed south before her husband and stayed with us while she looked for a place for to live. The first day she arrived, she offered to make us dinner. Carrie’s an incredible cook, so while I probably should have offered to make her dinner — she had, after all, hauled herself down the coast alone — I couldn’t bring myself to to argue. I’d never made polenta from scratch before, but as I watched her transform cornmeal into a smooth, golden porridge, I knew I would try soon. She scraped the mixture it into my cast iron skillet, topped it with cherry tomatoes, garlic, basil, Gorgonzola, mozzarella, and pine nuts, and then popped it in the oven.