Globavores: Corn

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

We continue our exploration of the foods of the Columbian Exchange with a look at corn, which has become a staple of modern agriculture. Betty Fussell, author of The Story of Corn, explains how the grain has changed the way the world eats. We'll also look at how corn is used in a variety of Mexican dishes with Zarela Martinez, author of numerous cookbooks including Zarela's Veracruz

Recipe:Zarela's Pimpo

Recipe: Zarela's Esquites

Corn Recipes from Listeners

Share your corn recipes below!


Find out where all the sweet corn shipped into the Hunts Point market in New York City comes from this time of year (courtesy of The New York World)


Betty Fussell and Zarela Martinez

Comments [8]

Juanell Boyd from Middlesex County, NJ

I've posted a detailed recipe for posole that I developed to utilize the produce grown in the "Three Sisters" section of the vegetable garden grown by the Master Gardeners of Middlesex County, NJ. If you are interested, click on "See Results" in the "Share Your Recipes" section above. It was fun to develop and prepare and was very popular at a number of potluck dinners I've attended in the past three years.

Oct. 10 2012 01:22 PM

How can you create recipes when you know it by feeling only? My mom never used recipes and made the best Mexican food in the world!

Oct. 10 2012 01:01 PM

"Hominy" is regular dried corn that has been put the nixtamalization process. It is cooked and soaked in lime.

It is not a "special" strain of "maize".

Oct. 10 2012 12:57 PM
Leo from queens

I have 2 questions regarding the consumption of corn today and not sure your guest can answer. But it would be a good "Please Explain" or "Under Reported" segment:

Question 1: Since most corn consumed is Genetically Modified (GM) and it's now included in 90% of the food we eat, have any long term studies been done on the health effect on human beings to consume so much GM corn starch and syrup from the day they are born until they become adults?

Question 2: Since now Mexican consumers are now flooded with heavily subsidized GM corn from the US, what has been the economic impact on Mexican farmers and are there any studies being done to assess the health impact of this corn Mexicans who are now consuming this corn as their primary source of nourishment/nutrition?

Oct. 10 2012 12:48 PM

People trash talk HFCS -- not because it makes people fat, but because of the effect the crop has had on our food system overall.

Specifically, our food system is based on companies coming up with products that literally can use up the millions of tons of corn grown annually -- from "Breakfast cereal" to HFCS-based soft drinks and breads and even cow and pig meat.

Therefore corn related to humans getting fat, not because corn is fattening but because it is more fattening than the edibles that grew and lived where the corn is now growing instead.

And because processed corn is so easy to fry, a cooking method that is incredibly fattening.

Oct. 10 2012 12:47 PM
Sequoia Millen-El from New York City

The The Italian word for "corn" is "mais". It's pronounced like "mice". It's very similar to "maize".

Oct. 10 2012 12:46 PM
Sumukha Ravishankar from Sort Hills, NJ

Corn and Black eyed peas Shundal

Sundal is a popular dish made during the Navaratri in southern India. Navaratri falls in the fall months (this year from Oct 16th for 9 days). each day a different kind of Sundal is made as a prayer to the Goddess.
It can be made with chick peas, green peas, black beans etc etc. Each region in south has its own favorite recipe of Sundal. These two are our family recipe. Its eaten like a snack.

2 cups of fresh corn kernels
1/4 cup of black eyed peas soaked in warm water for 3 hours.

Cook the corn and black eyed peas in 4 cups of water and a little salt (best to Pressure cook for 10 minutes it's fast and efficient)
Drain the water and set aside.

two types of garnishing

2 tsp of oil
3 green thai chilli or Jalapenos ( slit into thin slices)
1tsp of black gram dal
1tsp of bengal gram dal
1 tsp of mustard seeds
Asafotida (optional)

heat oil in a cast iron deep pan (or nonstick), add the mustard. once the mustard starts spluttering, add the rest of the ingredients, Stir and roast for 1 minutes.

add the cooked corn, and black eyed peas.

adjust the salt.
garnish with 2 tsp of grated fresh or dry unsweetened coconut and chopped cilantro. a dash of lime or lemon juice (optional but works really well)


2tsp of oil
1 tsp of bengal gram dal
1/2 tsp of crushed red pepper.
1 tsp of coriander seeds.

heat all the three together in a pan.
cool and coarsely grind into a powder.

add to the above #1 recipe. but forgo the jalapenos and lime/lemon juice.

Oct. 05 2012 09:43 AM
Sumukha Ravishankar from Short Hills, NJ

This is a simple peasant food from the Punjab region in India. A special winter delicacy best enjoyed hot from the griddle. The traditional accompanying dish is Sarson Da Saag(Mustard Greens).

Makki Di Roti (Corn Meal Tortilla)

Cornmeal 1 1/2 cups
Whole wheat flour 1/4 cup
Salt to taste
Unsalted butter (or Ghee) as required

Add salt and whole-wheat flour to the cornmeal and mix well. Add warm water and knead to make a medium soft dough ( a food processor with a knead cycle also works).
Divide into eight equal portions and shape into balls.
Pat each ball between 2 sheets of greased thick plastic sheets and with your finger and palm (or with a rolling pin) gently pat to make a roti of medium thickness.
Heat a griddle (a cast iron griddle is best) and place a roti on it. Cook on moderate heat till one side is half-done. Turn over and spread some white butter(or Ghee) over the surface. Turn over and spread some more butter on the other side. Cook till both sides are golden brown. Serve hot with a dollop of white butter (whipped Butter is best).

Sarson Da Saag (Mustard Greens)

1 1/4 pounds mustard greens, stemmed, or broccoli rabe, trimmed and chopped
1/2 pound cleaned spinach
2 tablespoons cornmeal
6 garlic cloves, chopped
4 jalapeños, seeded and finely chopped
One 2-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
2 red onions, finely chopped
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the mustard greens and cook for 2 minutes. Add the spinach and cook for 30 seconds. Drain the greens, transfer to a food processor and puree. Sprinkle the cornmeal over the greens and pulse briefly to combine. Transfer the pureed greens to a bowl.

Add the garlic, jalapenos and ginger to the food processor and finely chop. Add the onions and finely chop.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil. Add the garlic-onion mixture and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 7 minutes. Add the pureed greens and cook for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally; add about 1/4 cup of water if the greens look dry. Season with salt and serve.

Oct. 05 2012 08:49 AM

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