Staple foods

I finally bought some of what the man on the bicycle was selling in the neighborhood.

It’s elote.  AyLOHtay.

It’s corn.

In Louisiana, we are very familiar with corn. It’s everywhere. Corn is served on lunch buffets, at home as a side dish with supper, in casserole at Thanksgiving (alongside the cornbread dressing). You may have to be from the country to understand the ecstasy of biting into a hot, sweet, buttery ear of sweetcorn fresh from the stalk in the middle of July, but you can’t say you’re from Louisiana if you don’t eat cornbread.

I’m not going to present a history lesson today, but I will just remind us that corn is native to the Americas and has been a staple food here for centuries (if not millennia).  It’s present in the U.S. and elsewhere in almost all packaged foods from breakfast cereal to fish sticks (but let’s not open THAT can of worms  right now).

I came down with acute gastritis last weekend. I think it may  have been the sandwich from 7-11 that I had Friday for lunch. In any case, after two visits from the doctor and some heavy IV meds, I started to feel some better. I was relaxing in the apartment when I heard him sing out:

“E-lo-te!”

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I galloped down the stairs and scrambled at the lock to get the door open. I was going to find out this time what it was.

There is a Mexican drink made from  masa (corn flour) and chocolate called “atole.” I thought maybe that’s what he had. Or maybe horchata, a milky drink made from rice and sugar and cinnamon.

But this time, it’s just . . . corn.

From my google search I found that elote is corn on the cob, seasoned and grilled, or cut from the cob and steamed in a big pot of water. The cut variety is what my neighborhood elote salesman was offering. He asked  if I wanted small, medium, or large. I said,”Pequeño.” He dipped the corn into the cup with a slotted spoon and asked, “Con todos?” With everything?

Heck, yes, with everything.

I didn’t know what “everything” was, and with my stomach still being a bit iffy, I was somewhat cautious, but I had chili (seasoning), lime, and two kinds of cream–or maybe one was a kind of butter or margarine. I passed on the really hot-sounding topping.

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It was good. Different. Tangy, creamy, and spicy over the sweet starchiness of the kernels.

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So now I can check it off the list. I know what he’s selling. I’ve tried it.

It’s corn.

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