I was preparing the post for a recipe for Texas Buttermilk Cornbread and it got me thinking….you don’t get more American than Corn.
No really. The top three crops grown in the world are wheat, rice and corn; within the United States corn tops the list as the number one crop for harvest. North America (so this includes Mexico and other Latin countries) harvest 332 metric tons in a year. The American portion of that number makes up 40% of the total corn in the world and of that number how much do we actually eat as corn?
Corn is the crop we grow in the greatest quantity and yet we only consume, in its natural form, 3% of what gets harvested. I’ll be delving more into why that is in a future post because there’s enough to talk about with corn, and I have quite few recipes, to make this an “A-Maize-ing Week.”
Domestication of corn began in the mesoamericas 10,000 years ago. The plant has several names you may have heard: Zea mays, Teosinte, Maize, Indian corn and variations of Corn like Sweet/Dent/Popcorn etc. I’m going to try to explain all the taxonomy for you now. Zea is name of a genus of grasses, Zea mays being the variety we know as corn, and teosinte is a name given to many other varieties of Zea we do not consume. Teosinte looks nothing like the corn we eat but it has played a part in the genetic manipulation of corn over the centuries. It was only through a great deal of human directed evolution that we have edible corn today. I’ll get into that more for my GMO post.
“Maiz” was the Spanish form of a word used by the Taino people for corn. These were the indigenous people that Columbus (Spanish explorer, see, starting to make sense now) interacted with during his (in)famous discovery of America. The British referred to any cereal crop as corn. Cereal crops include wheat, rice, barley and so on. Eventually the term became associated just maize. Terminology’d! Read more