Huitlacoche: Gross-Looking Corn Smut Is Edible, Healthy, & Delicious!
Corn farmers in the U.S. have been trying to get rid of 'corn smut' for years. The stuff has ruined many a corn crop. Plus, who wants to look at it?
Nevertheless, huitlacoche (WEET-LA-CO-CHEE is the American pronunciation), has been eaten and, dare I say, relished for hundreds of years in Mexico, as it has been recently by devotees of certain experimental culinary restaurants in the U.S., where huitlacoche is considered a delicacy. (gulp)
Now, test results compiled by food scientists at Mexican universities as well as the University of Illinois, and published by the journal of Food Chemistry, suggest that huitlacoche is actually healthier than the corn it destroys. Much healthier.
"We had no idea huitlacoche could actually synthesize significant nutrients that don't even exist in corn," Octavio Paredes-Lopez, one of Mexico's leading food scientists and lead author of the study, told the Associated Press (AP)
It turns out that huitlachoche is high in protein and includes lysine, an essential amino acid that the body can't manufacture but needs to fight infections, build muscles, and even keep skin looking young.
"Who cares about the nutritional value? The flavors are amazing!" Steve Sando told the AP reporter. His Rancho Gordo speciality food company grows and sells heirloom beans, corn and other indigenous "New World" ingredients.
Though huitlacoche is available from most Latin markets in cans, U.S. farmers are slowly coming around to "grow" it for the fresh market by allowing it to destroy some of its corn. The farmers make about four times more on the huitlacoche than they do on corn.
Look for fresh huitlacoche when it comes to a menu near you. And let us know how it tastes!