México, the Place Where Corn Was Born
How to Prepare Esquites
Mission: World Understanding
By ETA Cuernavaca Chapter
A wonderful way to get in touch with a culture is through one of the most basic human activities: eating
On this occasion we want to share a traditional Mexican snack with you: esquites (or corn kernels).
Corn is a grain that has spread worldwide and was first cultivated and developed by Mexican people about 7,000 years ago. Corn cannot exist in the wilderness, as it requires human care. The seeds, or corn kernels, are protected by the leaves, so they cannot fall apart and spread on their own, but by human hands that thresh them from the husk, sow them, and harvest them.
Many dishes are prepared using corn, including tortillas -the Mexican bread. It is considered the basic staple of Mexican food.
Corn was originally taken to the old world to provide food for people suffering from the famine. Since at the time no one knew the process to prepare the corn for human consumption, its main use has been to feed animals.
According to the sacred book of Mayan quiches, Popol Vuh, corn and humanity are linked in a strong bond. Here it is written “We are corn people and corn is of the people”.
So let’s share a delicious Mexican, easy-to-prepare corn dish: esquites. The word esquites comes from nahuatl word ízquitl, which means “toasted corn”.
For this, we need:
- 6 ears of corn
- Half an onion
- Half a stick of butter (vegetable oil may be used instead)
- Two epazote twigs
- 1 serrano chile (optional)
- Salt to taste
And for the topping:
- Lime juice
- Red chile powder to taste (optional)
- Mayonnaise (optional)
- Grated “cotija” cheese (optional)
- Cream (optional)
- Cut the corn kernels off with a knife and chop the onion.
- Heat the butter in a pan.
- As soon as it melts, sauté the chopped onion
- Add the corn kernels
- Add the coarsely chopped epazote leaves and serrano chile
- Mix with the butter and sauté for about five minutes
- Add water (about twice the amount of corn kernels)
- Sprinkle with salt.
- Cover, reduce heat, and let simmer for 45 minutes
Once kernels are cooked, serve in small bowls or cups, and add any of the toppings -or all of the toppings, as you wish.