So, is it edible? Yes, unlike some other things around here, it is edible. It’s also a food. Fancy that. What is corn smut, and why is it something that some farmers don’t want?
It’s a fungus that the Aztecs knew well about; the name derives from the Aztec words cuitlatl, or droppings and cochi, sleeping. The corn kernels become entirely consumed by the fungal disease, swell, turn grayish and make fools of themselves. In other words, if you’re walking in a corn field, you’ll inevitably recognize the class clown. In Mexico, huitlacoche is lauded for its nutrients and health benefits, but in the USA, you’re not likely going to see Huitlacoche Flakes balance out a complete breakfast. It doesn’t ordinarily devastate whole corn crops at one time, so I guess it’s just that US farmers are more shallow than their Mexican counterparts.
I tried it in Cancun, a resort city in Mexico’s uh, far east. It took a while to find a place selling the dish, in fact before settling on this restaurant I had cactus juice and tempura at a Japanese restaurant near a karate school. The flavor of the huitlacoche was earthy and nutty, nothing too “advanced,” but I noticed salty overtones as well, possibly due to the accompanying melted cheese. Worth another try, probably with a fruit shake on the side.
If I was still going trick-or-treating, I wouldn’t be opposed to this landing in my basket, or carved into something sillier than me. How about you?