This sweet and versatile grain that was first cultivated and domesticated over 10,000 years ago in Mexico, where it’s more often referred to as maize. The corn plant is a type of grass, related to wheat, rice, barley and sorghum, among others, and it’s a staple food in many regions around the world. The kernels can be eaten on or off the cob, in soups, salads or on their own. Soaking the kernels in lye, a process called nixtamalization, yields hominy, which can be dried and ground into masa harina (used to make tortillas, tamales, sopes and pupusas!). Corn is especially valuable in modern times as animal feed, and because it can be refined for the production of cornstarch, corn syrup, corn oil, grain alcohol, beer and even biofuel. Our favorite way to enjoy corn in the summer is probably the simplest; right off the cob, grilled and slathered with butter, salt and pepper.
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