I love polenta, but I don't eat it that often (kinda high in carbs, which I try
to keep under control
There 2 basic kinds, a soft polenta much like southern grits and a firm variety that I really can't think of a food to compare it to.
The firm polenta can be bought in a tube from the store. Sometimes they put it in the chilled food area and sometimes not. The firm variety is wonderful grilled, served with a meat dish that has a sauce. People also use it in place of pasta for lazagna. I find it a bit dry w/o some sort of topping. You can also make it yourself by allow the soft type to set in a baking pan for a couple of hours in the fridge.
The soft type can be served in place of rice, pasta, or potatoes. I definitely prefer the original over the "quick polenta". It takes a while to cook and needs pretty constant stirring, but tastes much better. Like all the other starches you can add all kinds of stuff, mushrooms, garlic, herbs and veggies. And like mashed potatoes is a perfect foil for gravy
Some people find it a little bland, but I like to think of it as a conveyor for other flavors, just like pasta.