BRANTFORD – Cool temperatures this past Saturday evening set the stage for Woodland Cultural Centre’s annual corn soup cook-off, with visitors lined up at the door waiting to fill their mugs with warm corn soup.
This year, seven competitors entered and visitors were given the opportunity to purchase a mug and sample each of the corn soup dishes, which they later voted on. The mugs purchased displayed the Woodland Cultural Centre and De dwa da dehs nye>s Aboriginal Health Centre’s logos, who partnered on the well-loved event.
Woodland Cultural Centre Collections Registrar Tara Froman explained that she helped organize the competition this year, as she helped to refill pots of corn soup behind the scenes.
“We’ve been doing it for quite a few years,” said Froman, explaining that she has organized the event for the past two years. “The only year we didn’t do one was the year white corn was scarce. Then we tried to do an Indian cookie and Indian doughnut challenge, but only two people entered, so corn soup is really the way to go,” she explained.
“We had eleven entrants; we had one from Moravian Town and one enter from Walpole Island, but they didn’t make it,” she said. “So seven made it, and our trick was we were offering gift cards to those that registered and brought their soups, to give them initiative to come,” she said, explaining that while they receive many entries, sometimes entrants won’t show up.
“Everyone is different, we even have a husband and wife competing against each other,” she said. “We set up for a hundred guests and had we had all eleven entrants, I think we could have successfully fed a hundred,” she said.
“Last year we had a dried corn dish, and we also had a caterer from Toronto that is Anishinabek and she entered a squash and vegetable based corn soup. It was something like a Three Sisters Soup. She came in third because everyone liked the vegetables,” she said, as she mentioned that many community members are very particular in what they believe corn soup should look like.
Corn soup has been enjoyed by the Haudenosaunee people for years, with the usual combination of lyed white corn, kidney bean, salt pork and pink to grey broth remaining a family favourite. The taste profile preferred is usually salty and savoury, with the flavour of pork enveloping the chewy morsels of corn and beans.
After the collection of ballots, it was announced that First Place of $250.00 went to Natasha Martin, who collaboratively worked with her mother Dorothy Henry and her daughter Mia Martin to make their dish. Second Place of $150.00 went to Bev Bomberry and Third Place of $100.00 went to Angela Noah.