Huitlacoche The Black God of Mexican Cuisine. The scientific name of this fungus that seizes corn in rainy seasons is Ustilago maydisl and by attacking this plant it generates malformations in any of its parts although it is mainly concentrated in the ears producing gray and black ampule grains. In the doubt of whether it is “huitlacoche” or “cuitlacoche”, we tell you: both are the correct way to refer to it, there is no fault.
It is striking that in Mexico this fungus is not only edible but over time has become a sophisticated ingredient among the most renowned chefs and is a gourmet product of which we Mexicans are proud.
It is a fungus that can attack corn anywhere in the world but only in Mexico, we consume it as food. In France, the United States and even South America, it is considered a terrible pest that must be eradicated immediately if you do not want to lose the entire harvest.
In France, the United States and even South America, it is considered a terrible plague. In the vast majority of countries, the parasite is the terror of farmers and, for Mexico, it is a precious, exotic and highly valued ingredient. The etymological origin of the word cuitlacoche comes from the Nahuatl cuítlatl, which means “excrement”, and cochi, which refers to the dream.
Some versions claim that the name comes from the similarity of the huitlacoche to a bird that usually feeds at very low levels above ground level, almost level with the ground in the milpa and that sleeps on the manure of cattle.
Another theory says that its name alludes from pre-Hispanic times to the excrement of the gods, this being something highly valued and linked with the improvement of the quality of the sowing. Much research has been done on this edible mushroom and its first appearances as a product valued and appreciated by the Mexican culinary. However, there are no documents that affirm the exact origin of the first intakes of this delicacy.
There are those who affirm that the huitlacoche was ingested since pre-Hispanic times in the same way in which it is consumed today. Others, on the contrary, believe that the consumption of huitlacoche is quite recent and that although it has existed for thousands of years in the Mexican fields, it was not the food of kings, nor an offering of gods in pre-Hispanic times, but rather an abnormality in the harvest absolutely unwanted.
What is a fact is that it was first subsistence food for peasants and indigenous people and it was not until the 20th century that it became a culinary product that began to be introduced to Mexican gastronomy, making it a symbol that today characterizes us in terms of Typical dishes and high sophistication.
Its delicate smoky flavor, which is generally an acquired taste, has achieved that, for example, French food in Mexico adopts this product to such an extent that it becomes the famous dish internationally; “Crepas de cuitlacoche”. Usually consumed stewed with epazote and garlic, we also find it in soups, quesadillas, tacos, eggs.
An ear invaded with mushrooms can cost the same as 12 clean ears of corn.
“The Mexican truffle”, as some call it, is undoubtedly a product that gives a lot to talk about because of the interesting phenomenon of being consumed in only one country in the world and it is worth mentioning that it is not even consumed throughout the country. There are states of the Republic where it is not food and simply has medicinal uses for being very good for skin problems, very effective in favoring contractions of the uterus or treating digestive problems.
Today, the field has been harvesting parasitized corn for more than 50 years, which surprisingly becomes more expensive than beef because an ear invaded by fungi can cost the same as 12 clean ears.
This recipe is written by Alicia Gironella in the Larousse of Mexican Cuisine. It is one of those delights that were born in the restaurant industry and that has had a lot of echoes, so it should not be missing in the personal recipe book.
- 5 cups of stewed cuitlacoche
- 20 crepes
- 250 milliliters of liquid cream
- 30 grams of butter
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 100 grams grains of cooked corn
- 80 grams of poblano chili in rajas
- 100 grams of crumbled fresh cheese
- Salt and pepper to taste
Heat the stewed cuitlacoche and fill the crepes as if they were tacos. At very low heat heat the cream with half the butter. Add the nutmeg, salt, and pepper. At the end add corn and turn off. Pour the sauce into a baking dish and place the crepes over the sauce. Sauté the slices with the rest of the butter. Drain the butter on the crepes and bake 10 minutes. When cooking garnish with the slices and crumbled cheese. Serve hot.
- The oven should be at 180 degrees Celsius before placing the preparation.
- When preparing the sauce it is important not to stop beating the cream.
Important note: The nutrient richness of the ingredients consigned in each card, does not lie in the total content of nutrients or in the specific amount that they provide of vitamins and/or minerals (micronutrients), but in their combination in consumption, which originates cymbals of a high nutritional value.