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Corn Smut

An elder who gifted us with white corn seeds set the intention “I hope you get some smut on the corn you’ll grow.” Two weeks ago when walking through the rows of corn at the Edge of the Woods farm, much to my delight I saw this intention come to fruition. Corn smut was indeed growing on a number of the corn stalks.

An elder who gifted us with white corn seeds set the intention “I hope you get some smut on the corn you’ll grow.” Two weeks ago when walking through the rows of corn at the Edge of the Woods farm, much to my delight I saw this intention come to fruition. Corn smut was indeed growing on a number of the corn stalks.

Corn smut or Huitlachoche, also known as Mexican Corn Truffle is a fungus that grows on the ears of corn. It is considered a delicacy in some indigenous communities across Turtle Island, particularly in Mexico.
Lucho Granados Ceja, of the Two Row Times, who is on a journey discovering his indigenous ancestry explains that, “some farmers view corn smut as a plague that ruins crops, but for people where my family is from it’s considered a delicacy.” Many farmers take steps to prevent it from occurring like fungicides or planting either naturally or otherwise resistant varieties.

Lucho shared with me a wonderful story of the first time he was introduced to corn smut. Although being of Ongwehon:we descent from peoples in Mexico, Lucho grew up outside of Mexico eating a fusion of cultural style dishes ranging from more traditional Mexican food for breakfast and lunch to turkey and steak and potato type meals for dinner. “It wasn’t until I was in my early 20s on a trip home to visit family, that I found out about the traditional delicacy of corn smut” Lucho muses. He explained that, “one morning at a market place in Mexico City, my uncle who is very supportive of me exploring my traditional roots asked if I had every tried Tlacoyo (from the Nahuatl language of the Aztec). Tlacocyo is a pre-Colombian dish that consists of blue corn, pressed flat like a large tortilla shaped similar to a beaver tail. It is layered with cream, nopales (cactus), the corn smut, and caso fresco (salty fresh crumpled white cheese).” Lucho describes the taste of corn smut to be “earthy and corn-like at the same time, as if the corn grew deep in the ground like a root vegetable”.

When I first tasted corn smut the other day it reminded me of a delicious earthy mushroom with the added taste of corn. When it is young, it can be sautéed like a mushroom. When the smut is more developed, it is better suited as an addition to soups or sauces. The other day I topped my farm fresh scrambled eggs I had collected that morning with some sautéed smut mixed with garlic and hot peppers. My breakfast was a delicious combination of silk like texture and rich earthy flavours.

Recommendations:

  • You can use it in any place you would use mushrooms.
  • Try enriching your mac and cheese with corn smut.
  • Makes a great soup with hot peppers, onions, garlic, chicken broth and sweet or sour cream.

Is corn smut eaten and enjoyed in your community?

Please share your corn smut stories. Post in the comments section or email farmerjoefood@gmail.com

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