Huitlacoche, the Aztec caviar

Although it was once considered an annoying pest that attacked corn crops and was mercilessly exterminated, today the Mexican huitlacoche (or cuitlacoche) is considered a delicacy in countries like the United States, Germany and France, where it is called the Aztec caviar or the Mexican truffle because of its intensely smoky flavor, a mixture of shiitake mushrooms and black truffles.

Once considered a plague of corn, today it is considered a delicacy that is also called the Mexican truffle in other parts of the world.
Once considered a plague of corn, today it is considered a delicacy that is also called the Mexican truffle in other parts of the world.

Many believe that this fungus that grows in the cobs began to be consumed in pre-Hispanic times; however, in the book Cujtlacochi, El Cuitlacoche, published by UNAM, authors Raúl Valadez Azúa, Ángel Moreno Fuentes and Graciela Gómez Álvarez explain that the Florentine Codex of Fray Bernardino de Sahagún refers to the mushrooms that were well known and consumed by the pre-Hispanic peoples; However, the huitlacoche is not mentioned in this section, which reveals that at that time this product was not considered food.

"The information of the cuitlacoche is extremely reduced since it only refers to the corncob in bad condition", says the book.

In fact, its etymology does not speak of that succulent delicacy that is now known, but of something very unpleasant, because it comes from the Nahuatl cuitlatl, excrement, and cochtli, asleep, according to the Encyclopedic Dictionary of Mexican Gastronomy.

In reality, the recognition of the huitlacoche as a mushroom did not occur until 1895, according to the aforementioned book, and its consumption as food arose in the twentieth century as a necessity, rather than as a tradition, when the peasants decided to take full advantage of the products of the cornfields.

Since then, the Ustiligo Maydis, which is the scientific name of this mushroom, is frequently consumed as part of Mexican gastronomy, in dishes such as quesadillas, tamales, pork stews, chicken and fish, stuffed peppers and various types of soup, among others.

But not only is it considered exquisite, but it has also been discovered that the edible part of the huitlacoche has a high content of protein, as well as vitamins, minerals, and antioxidant compounds.

The potential of the huitlacoche to help treat some illnesses is still being studied, although traditional medicine already uses it in Mexico for various skin and digestive disorders. It is an exquisite delicacy of the Mexican soil, with plenty to give yet.

DIETARY

Compared to other species of mushrooms, it has a very low-fat content.

51%

From the total area harvested in Mexico occupied by corn, where Ustiligo Maydis grows.

RECIPE

Ingredients

600 gr clean huitlacoche, coarsely chopped

4 (500 gr) poblano chiles, roasted, skin and seeds removed, cut into thin slices

2 (30 ml) cloves garlic, peeled, finely chopped

3 branches of epazote

100 g fresh cheese, sliced

Corn tortillas

Salt

Preparation

-Heat the chosen oil and fry the onion, garlic and poblano slices.

-Add mushrooms, cover and keep low heat for 10 minutes or until mushrooms are tender, but not soft or disrupted. Finally, add the epazote and season.

-Before serving, remove the epazote sticks, accompany the slices of cheese and hot tortillas.

Source: El Sol de Mexico

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