I find it interesting that our society has taken what has been a nourishing food eaten at most meals for generations and turned it into one of the most toxic ingredients in our food chain. Now corn is in everything and in many strange forms. As a sweetener it is prevalent, as a filler it is everywhere, and as a GMO grain it fills our grocery stores. But it wasn’t always like this. Heirloom corn was eaten in South America for generations with good results, but this corn was nixtamalized. The nixtamalization of corn isn’t exactly a culturing process. It is, however, a historic means by which a society improved the quality of their raw ingredients, making them more digestible and unlocking certain nutrients for better health. In those terms, nixtamalization isn’t that far off from fermentation. The process isn’t all that different from souring grains, either, in that time and liquid are involved. The other key ingredient is lime, and not the citrus fruit. Let’s take a closer look at this age-old practice and which common corn foods can be made from them. In many South American regions, nixtamal (corn masa that has been nixtamalized) is still being made in small batches every day. This is then used to make some of the most delicious and ubiquitous foods of South America:
- fresh corn tortillas
- tamales with various fillings
- and more!