Save the elotes!

23 July 2009

Corn of the Americas--how many can you find at the market?

Corn of the Americas--how many can you find at the market?

Corn is corn, right?  Yellow, sweet, pops when you bite it?  Wrong!  I had reason to consider the wide variety of indigenous corn available in Oaxaca last night as I strolled around the zocalo savoring an elote.  For the unitiated, an elote is an ear of corn on a stick, spread with a little mayo (which I always get against all common sense) then sprinkled with grated cheese, chili powder and lime juice.  You can also order this combo off the cob and in a styrofoam cup–then they´re called esquites–but I prefer the more environmentally friendly and perhaps Freudian cob version.  This combo may sound gross in the abstract, so if you are in New York, get yourself to Jackson Heights (82nd Street on the 7, there´s a vendor just as you exit at the Northeast corner)  and just try it!  You can get some Indian sweets for dessert.

But to return to the point, the corn I had last night was more dense, less sweet, more starchy than typical U.S. corn on the cob.  The kernels were bigger and creamy white.  And here in Oaxaca each corn experience is different in terms of color, texture, density and sweetness.  Though I am no expert, I think this is because unlike in the U.S., Oaxaca has so far managed to avoid being completely overrun by one variety of genetically modified corn.  To be frank, I don´t want to write more about this publicly because I´m scared of “big agra” so I´ll just recommend you check out this article and if you can, rent King Corn, a documentary in which two young men discover they are mostly made of corn (thank you, American diet!), try to grow an acre of the stuff and do a lot of cool stop-frame animation with corn kernels.  Or if that seems like too much effort, just slow down and enjoy some corn on the cob…perhaps with a little lime juice.




2 Responses to “Save the elotes!”

  1. Fran said

    It hardly seems like they need saving! You make them sound so delicious. Can sound be delicious? Well, I’m sure you know what I mean.

  2. Annie said

    You have to get down to Peru to try CHOCLO- you would love it!

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