Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Corn, Reborn

At a recent gathering we hit folks with a hipster quiz, to rate how trendy they were. Had they downloaded the hottest songs? Seen the hottest movies? Lost hours of their lives to Trivia Crack?Since those present ranged in age from 14 to 85, you might imagine that trendiness varied widely. In one area, however, just about everyone was in step with the times. Or the times, circa 2014!
Passé on two counts

This area was food trends. I asked if anyone had consumed, within the previous week:

  1. Greek yogurt;
  2. A smoothie with vegetables in it;
  3. Bacon-flavored anything (other than just bacon itself); or
  4. Something labeled "gluten-free."
Scoring was impressive. Except that those trends are supposedly on the wane now.

For that refreshing, "I just ate breakfast" feeling

It's 2015 people, and according to this recent CNN article, we've got all new food trends:

  1. Radishes. Because they're so...radish-y, I guess.
  2. Yogurt with vegetables in it. Because...ick.
  3. Maple syrup. Because all our bees are dropping dead, but there's no shortage of maples in Canada, for the time being. If only the danged trees could make themselves useful and do some pollinating while they're at it.
  4. Sour flavors. The kids had the jump on us on this one. They've been downing sour Gummi worms for years.
  5. Hemp. Because with all that legal marijuana, we've got more seeds floating around. Hemp milk! Hemp in cereals! Hemp--it's what's for dinner, not just what's tying the yacht to the dock.
  6. Old school cocktails. Might be sentimentality over Mad Men ending, but those drinks grandpa drank are ba-a-a-ack!
  7. Eating seasonally, if not locally. Not sure I get this one, since, to co-opt the drinking excuse, it's always summer somewhere.
  8. The end of restrictive elimination diets. Which means that book I reviewed earlier, Smart People Don't Diet, is exactly on trend. Impressive.
  9. Spanish cuisine. Not only is the country a hot tourist destination, but the food is in too! And if you make or eat it in America, you can even eat your dinner before nine o'clock.
  10. And finally, trendwatchers predict fancy cookies on dessert menus. Well, duh.
But supposing you're still clinging to 2014's food trends. Greek yogurt tastes like ice cream, you argue. Or, It may be 2015, but I'm still gluten-intolerant!

It's okay to be out of style. In fact, if gluten still isn't your thing, you may as well go all the way and be 250 years out of style. I've been reading a fascinating little history of American meals called Three Squares, and in one passage, author Abigail Carroll describes how Ben Franklin patriotically stuck up for American consumption of "Indian corn" in the face of English snootiness.

Franklin deemed corn "one of the most agreeable and wholesome grains in the world...its green leaves roasted[!] are a delicacy beyond express;...samp, hominy, succotash, and nokehock, made of it, are so many pleasing varieties, and...Johnny cake or hoecake, hot from the fire, is better than a Yorkshire [English] muffin."

This impassioned declaration got me to thinking--colonial Americans often ate gluten-free by default. After all, wheat ain't easy to grow, and Carroll notes that wheat didn't take off in America or become widely (or cheaply) available until the end of the 18th century. Instead, early Americans ate plenty of peas and that Native American local favorite, corn. 

So say you're clinging to your retro, gluten-free food trend and want to get back to corn. What are these luscious dishes Franklin references? 

Samp: corn porridge similar to oatmeal, based on a Native American dish nausamp. Plimoth Plantation provides recipes for both here.

Hominy: yes, that hominy--like you find in cans in the Mexican food section. I guess they mixed it with bacon (another ancient food trend!) or ham and ate up.

Succotash: a boiled, one-pot meal in olden days. Zester Daily gives a history and recipe here (and hominy makes its second appearance). 

Nokehock: apparently this recipe has fallen out of favor in the last 250 years, so maybe Franklin was alone in his appreciation for it. Another author of an American food history defines it as "parched corn cooked in hot ashes, then pounded into meal." Uh, yum?

Johnny cake: recipes for corn pancakes have never gone completely out of style, and looking this one over made me want to whip some up. 

Add a dollop of Greek yogurt, some bacon-flavored maple syrup, and wash it all down with a kale smoothie, and it'll be like 2014 all over again!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.