Wine is sexy.
Cheese is sexy.
After wine and cheese, maize is sort of a let down. No two ways about it.
There are several reasons for this. First and foremost is the name. Corn, for the majority of us North Americans, actually refers to the fruit of any grain of a cereal. Corn is also known as Wheat (In England) and oats (In Scotland). In order for us to differentiate the three, I’ll be referring to Corn as Maize.
Second, maize has identity issues, thanks in large part to canning folks. maize is NOT a vegetable, regardless of what the Green Giant would have us believe. Maize comes from the fruit of the grain . Learn it, live it, love it. It’s a teosinte…also known as grass. NOT a vegetable. It’s those purveyors of mediocrity, the canned and frozen food industries who have foisted this myth of vegetableness upon maize.
I apologize. I tend to get a little cranky when I find out I’ve been eating nothing but lies. But I digress.
Another reason why maize is far less sexier than wine and cheese is that in it’s unmilled state, there’s precious few recipes that are available. Sure, there’s corn chowder, corn pudding and corn relish. If you want to used milled corned, there’s tortillas, polenta and cornbread. But remove these items from the database, and your cooking options decline dramatically. Of course, this is akin to saying that if you removed the Empire State Building, Times Square, Greenwich Village, Little Italy and Chinatown from Manhattan, it’d be a pretty boring place.
For being a crop with limited options, it basically allowed humanity to survive and thrive in the Western Hemisphere for thousands of years. Maize development is thought to have started from 7,500 to 12,000 years ago. Archaeological remains of the earliest maize cob, found at Guila Naquitz Cave in the Oaxaca Valley of Mexico, date back roughly 6,250 years. Maize has been cultivated on this planet longer than onions, garlic, even barley. People were planting corn…err…maize before the Egyptians were even a sparkle in this planets eyes. Without Maize, this side of the world would be an entirely different place. If your prone to keeping lists of historically significant foods, maize would certainly be in your top dozen or so.
Once it was “discovered” by the Europeans, maize was exported and its popularity took off across the world. Corn can be found on every major continent.
We Americans like our maize, even if we don’t realize just how much. I’ll touch upon High Fructose Corn Syrup just so we all know what’s going on. There’s much to talk about with corn. But it’s still not as sexy as wine or cheese.