Nutritious, abundant and perfect for use in a multitude of dishes, corn has been a staple in the diets of Native North American and Mesoamerican diets for thousands of years. Today, in honor of a recent archaeological find in South Dakota (US) of 1,000 year old kernels and cobs, we’re bringing you a recipe for delicious corn on the cob that highlights its golden perfection. First, some history.
You may be surprised to learn that the yellow kernel we’ve come to know and love doesn’t actually grow anywhere in the wild. Domestication of modern maize began about 9,000 years ago in the Central Balsas River Valley of southern Mexico. Its ancient wild relative is a grass called Balsas teosinte.
The most impressive aspect of the maize story is what it tells us about the capabilities of agriculturalists 9,000 years ago. These people were living in small groups and shifting their settlements seasonally. Yet they were able to transform a grass with many inconvenient, unwanted features into a high-yielding, easily harvested food crop. The domestication process must have occurred in many stages over a considerable length of time as many different, independent characteristics of the plant were modified.
Once the maize had been cultivated, it quickly became a dietary staple. It was eventually used in many different ways, but researchers believe the very first method of cooking both wild and cultivated corn was by popping. For a fascinating history of popcorn, specifically in the Aztec culture, check out our blog post, Bon Appetit Wednesday! Time to Break Out the Aztec Chocolate Caramel Popcorn.
Before you start popping, try this oh-so-simple, but incredibly delicious Sweet and Easy Corn on the Cob. It allows the flavors of the tiny yellow kernels to come alive and delight your taste buds without the interference of a bunch of other ingredients. And while you’re eating, take a second to thank the “pioneer geneticists for their skill and patience.”
Jamie’s Sweet and Easy Corn on the Cob
- 2 tablespoons of white sugar
- 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
- 6 ears of corn on the cob, husks and silk removed
- Fill a large pot about 3/4 full of water and bring to a boil.
- Stir in sugar and lemon juice, dissolving the sugar.
- Gently place ears of corn into boiling water, cover the pot, turn off the heat, and let the corn cook in the hot water until tender, about 10 minutes.