Corn or maize was first domesticated in Mexico, then reached the United States about 800 years ago. This classic food has a unique history in America from antiquity to modern times. It is said that American humor is "corny." Americans speak of a "corn belt" that stretches from Indiana, westward through Illinois and Missouri, into Kansas. Corn has more than 800 different culinary uses in America today, and collectively, Americans eat nearly 50 pounds of corn products yearly.
CORN: RELIGIOUS BEGINNINGS
For many Native American nations, maize remains central to diet. Many Native Americans believe maize has a spiritual origin. Maize lies at the center of tribal and personal religious beliefs. Maize is honored and in telling the story of maize, ethnic identity is reinforced and maintained.....
After eight days where the plumes of a Tchu-e-ton stood, rose seven corn plants, and they were called the seven maidens. The eldest was called yellow corn, of the Northland, the color of the light of winter. Next was blue corn, of the West, the color of the great world of waters. Next was red corn, of the South, the land of everlasting summer. The fourth was white corn, of the East, white like the land whence the sun brings the daylight. Next was speckled corn, of the Zenith, with many colors like the clouds of dawn and sunset. The sixth was black corn, of the Nadir, color of the caves of first humankind. The youngest corn was sweet corn, who remains soft even when ripe. The two clans linked: one gave the people corn in place of wild seeds and the other water to drink. Together they gave life to the people.
Zuni Origin Story [1: 1]
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THE MAIZE-BEAN-SQUASH COMPLEX
Native Americans planted maize, beans, and squash together in the same field. They used fish to fertilize the soil. As the seeds grew, the beans twined around the maize stalks, while the broad squash leaves covered the ground and kept the soil moist. Eaten together, maize, beans and squash provide a balanced diet without meat. [1: 2]
HISTORY CREATED THE HAMBURGER AND TACO
European Foods Not Present in America Before 1492:
almond, apple, apricot, asparagus, cabbage, cattle (beef, cheese, milk), cucumber, garlic, goat, lemon, lettuce, lime, mustard, oats, olive, onion, orange, pig, rice, sheep, sugar cane, and wheat.
American Foods Not Present in Europe Before 1492:
artichoke, avocado, lima bean, cacao (chocolate), chili (peppers), cranberry, maize, peanut, pineapple, potato, pumpkin, sunflower, tomato, and turkey. [1: 3]
RICHNESS AND DIVERSITY OF AMERICAN FOODS
The Province of Apalache is very fertile and abundantly provided with supplies with much corn, kidney beans, pumpkins, various fruits, much venison, many varieties of birds and excellent fishing near the sea.
Rodrigo Ranjel, 1546 [1: 4]
BENJAMIN FRANKLIN DEFENDS AMERICAN BREAKFASTS
A writer in your paper, comforts himself, and the India Company, with the fancy, that the Americans, should they resolve to drink no more tea, can by no means keep that Resolution, their Indian corn not affording 'an agreeable, or easy digestible breakfast.' Pray let me, an American, inform the gentlemen, who seems ignorant of the matter, that Indian corn . . . is one of the most agreeable and wholesome grains in the world; that Johnny or hoecake, hot from the fire, is better than a Yorkshire muffin.
The London Gazetteer
January 2, 1766 [1: 5]