Huitlacoche 790 xxx
photos by gluttonforlife

10.21.14 Invasion of the Kernel Snatchers

This is an overdue post I had promised to write sometime in August, I think, back when our local farmer friend found this rare treat/calamitous pest in his cornfield. I know this corn fungus as huitlacoche, the name (Nahuatl in origin) it goes by in Mexico, where it's considered a delicacy. In the States, it's called "corn smut," and destroyed for being a pathogenic blight on the harvest. Although Ustilago maydis can infect any part of the plant, it tends to enter the ovaries. It then replaces the normal kernels with large, distorted tumors or "galls." Doesn't sound very appetizing, right? But, like many fungi (think truffles), huitlacoche has a savory, sweet, earthy flavor that defies description. In Mexico, it's often eaten in cheesy quesadillas, with creamy scrambled eggs or in a kind of succotash with onions and spicy serrano peppers. I've come up with my own take on it that's delicious whether or not you can get your hands on any huitlacoche. It's available canned but I'm sure so much is lost in the processing. Go fresh or go home.
Tagged — edible fungus