April 27, 2010

Corn smut is tasty and good for you too.

A fungus we should be eating, not eradicating.
When huitlacoche attacks corn, the insidious-looking pustules that bubble up don't just force the husk to explode, it forces the metabolical process inside the cob to change, creating new, healthier nutrients.

Take lysine, one of those ''essential amino acids'' that the body requires but can't manufacture. We need it to fight infections and strengthen bones. Bodybuilders pound lysine when they want to build muscle, and estheticians recommend it to keep skin looking young.

Corn has virtually no lysine; huitlacoche is loaded with it. It also is packed with more beta-glucens -- the soluble fiber that gives oatmeal its well-known cholesterol-cutting power -- than, well, oatmeal.
This is a great metaphor for all the things we think are bad that could be perceived as beneficent if we just knew more about what it really is. What else is like huitlacoche?

33 comments:

themightypuck said...

Science!!!

Pogo said...

"...all the things we think are bad that could be perceived as beneficent if we just knew more about what it really is. What else is like huitlacoche?"

Liberty, i.e., individual choice.



'The insidious-looking tea partiers that bubble up don't just force the dried-out liberal husk to explode, it forces the political process inside the country to change, creating a new, healthier nation.'

Chris said...

Actually, most bodybuilders avoid lysine- it's arginine that they want. WHAT ELSE ARE THEY MAKING UP?

Michael said...

Be sure to check out the pictures of the stuff here:

http://www.thesneeze.com/2005/steve-dont-eat-it-vol-7.php

I'm usually an adventurous eater, but I'll pass.

Pogo said...

... things we think are bad that could be perceived as beneficent if we just knew more about what it really is. What else is like huitlacoche?"

(1) 1960s-70s detective shows.
Mannix and Police Woman, specifically.

(2) Knuckle-rappings or back-of-the-head-slaps by nuns.

(3) Songs by Wham!
Na-a-aaah.

mikrhicks said...

It's considered a delicacy in Mexico. I've had a couple of different dishes down there that were excellent.

KLDAVIS said...

Mexican truffles...one of the tastiest foods on earth. Rick Bayless has a local farmer that cultivates the stuff for his restaurants in Chicago. Really, everyone should try it.

k*thy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ET1492 said...

Huitlacoche looks horrifying, but the taste is pretty mild. Lightly sweet, vaguely mushroomy.

What makes it so scary looking to me are the recognizable bits of corn in it. If it were just a black mush, no problem. But it's hard to get past that instinctive distrust of food that has gone off a bit.

I was hesitant to eat it the first time. After trying it a few times, I am still as hesitant to try it again...

When I was a kid, my dad used to take to a friend's farm to pick sweet corn. Encountering smut was traumatic. I'm still not over it, I guess. It's like a disease from outer space!

Dust Bunny Queen said...

What else is like huitlacoche?

Maggots

chuck b. said...

You might enjoy reading Mycelium Running.

It's mildly annoying when one of the essential amino acids gets singled out for special treatment. Even calling them "essential" is an annoying throwback to an outmoded syntax. They're all essential. We need 20* of them and our body only makes 9. In this context, there is nothing particularly noteworthy about lysine. Try a methionine deficiency. You won't get very far.

*More than that even, if you consider the amino acids our cells modify to carry out, well, essential functions.

chuck b. said...

But, you know, regardless, I'm all for eating diverse sources of protein.

Pogo said...

Cockroaches = protein!

Pogo said...

Soylent green is people!

Fred4Pres said...

Well there is the morel* of the story! Fungi are good, except when they are poisonous or toxic mold.

*stolen from yesterday's comments

paul a'barge said...
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paul a'barge said...

Liver

edutcher said...

Corn smut, huh?

Sounds like porn directed by Frank Capra.

MadisonMan said...

Dad always grew sweet corn in our back garden. One year we ended up with corn infested with smut. We threw it out.

Good for you does not equal tasty. An acquired taste, perhaps, but far different than the crisp sweetness of just off the plant corn boiled --or grilled -- to perfection.

Is there a better summer meal than corn and fresh tomatoes? I think not.

Meade said...

Marmite.

Brian Dunbar said...

What else is like huitlacoche?

Capitalism!

Meade said...

And don't forget what happens to sprouted barley when it's left out to "spoil."

Trooper York said...

I was going to post a link to some corn smut but I know it will deleted.

GMW said...

Maybe global warming will prove to be like huitlacoche.

Barzilai said...

After a convivial dinner with friends last year, we enjoyed some some-grown smut. Perhaps I harvested it before its time, but it seemed rather bland, despite its gruesome appearance.
http://havolim.blogspot.com/2009/08/not-torah-not-politics-just-so.html

Trooper York said...

Of course if you are going to do corn smut, you should do really big corn smut!

NSFW

Blue@9 said...

Super yummy, goes well on tacos or scrambled eggs.

JorgXMcKie said...

We've eaten it at home, sliced and 'breaded' in flour and spices, for decades. A local seed corn company owner introduced it to our diet.

The kind we had grows on field corn [I'm assuming most corn smuts are very similar] and tasted quite a lot like morels or the "red mushrooms" [gyrosperms, supposedly poisonous] that we cook similarly.

Paul said...

This is a great metaphor for all the things we think are bad that could be perceived as beneficent if we just knew more about what it really is. What else is like huitlacoche?

You mean like Asian carp? "Many parts are edible..."

As my whimsy leads me.. said...
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As my whimsy leads me.. said...

How did I miss this yesterday?

Dandelions. They are full of vitamins, calcium, and iron. You can eat them raw or boiled, with a little pork. Some people make wine out of them. Goldfinches and other finches love them, and will flock to you yard to gobble up the seeds. They will grant you your wish if you can blow off all the fuzz in one breath.

Toy

Mike said...

Forget where I read it last week, but people with certain parasitic worms, as were common 100 years ago, have almost no incidence of peanut or soy allergy. So if you wondered why these modern debilitating allergies are so common today, there you go.

As my whimsy leads me.. said...

Mike, there are investigations of helminthic therapy for Crohn's disease and some other autoimmune disorders. In Crohn's they have been testing a small German pinworm that stays in the GI tract and does no invade the body. The patient drinks something with the little guys mixed in. So far there have been promising results. I told a friend who has Crohn's about this and she said that her sisters must not have fed her enough mud pies when she was young.

It apparently gives the immune system something to spend its attention on, rather than attacking self. There have been other studies showing that people exposed to worms, pets, and dirtier houses as children develop fewer allergies.

Toy