That’s how one of the most widely grown food plants in the world is called. Corn, once a cultivar native to Central America, is grown today on every continent of the world. It was domesticated more than 10,000 years ago. Archeogeneticists (scientists who study DNA of the ancient species with various genetic methods) have concluded that the corn’s progenitor was a flowering plant called teosinte, but if you look at its ancestor, you won’t be able to recognize modern corn. Teosinte looks like a stalk with one range of small green triangular seeds. In fact, species of teosinte can cross-breed with modern corn to produce maize-teosinte hybrids. Now these two look remarkably different but it took a lot of generations to evolve into an entirely new type.
But it all started with the first anonymous farmer who noticed that not all plants were the same and decided to save kernels from the larger, tastier cobs to plant them later. This is how desirable characteristics started to be preserved. This process is known as selective breeding. Corn became larger, tastier, easier to peel over time, which eventually took it where it is now today – in our kitchens.
It’s not uncommon to see people that shun little corn kernels in dishes like pizza or salad. Ok, this is debatable, but what should not be controversial is plain boiled corn. When was the last time you really enjoyed one? Try to make one anytime soon. Buy a couple of fresh cobs, break or cut them in half or thirds and immerse into a big pot of salted boiling water. Five minutes is everything you really need to finish cooking. Drain the corn and place it back into the pot. Add a tablespoon of butter mixed with one minced clove of garlic, salt and pepper. Cover your pot and toss everything, holding the lid, until thoroughly combined. Serve immediately, enjoy immediately. You think this is too boring? No problem, you can always amp things up with a little mayo, chilli flakes and Parmesan cheese. When the corn is ready to be served, take one and pour some melted butter over it, then cover it with a whole tablespoon of mayonnaise, and sprinkle with grated cheese and chilli. Fresh cilantro leaves and lime zest at will.
We can easily imagine that you prefer buying canned sweet corn. It’s very practical in terms of time-saving and convenience. Melt some butter in a pan over low heat and toss in some sliced onions, fry them until golden brown. Be patient, it’s gonna take some time. Then add a couple of tablespoons of kernels and saute them for 5 minutes. Stir in ½ cup of crumbled dry firm salty cheese (queso fresco, feta, parmesan, romano – you can basically try any of them), some mayo, fresh herbs, and a touch of hot sauce. You can do it by eye. This is a classic combination that is just meant to be tasty.