I am going to assume that most Americans would look at black fungus growing on a corn cob and think "Well that's ruined." Corn is used for so many different things that require it to be disease-free, so growers will use fungicides or other treatments to avoid any "less-than-perfect" crops like corn smut AKA huitlacoche (“wheat-la-COH-chay.")

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This is why finding huitlacoche is uncommon in this area unless it appears in small backyard gardens.  I polled my Facebook friends the other to see if anyone knew anywhere locally I could find some and no luck! I remember trying it when I was in college at the Mayan Cafe in Louisville and I would love to have some again.

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I'm not gonna lie, I was nervous to try it at first as the color and shape are not very appealing.  However, the flavor is out of this world. Very similar to black truffles or Shitake mushrooms,

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What is Corn Smut (huitlacoche)?

When the fungus, Ustilago maydis, infects the growing corn plant, it prevents proper development of the corn causing the kernels of the cob to swell and grow dark-colored spores.  Those spores then spread by wind or rain and survive in the soil which continues the cycle. The infected corn cob is still edible and has been served in Mexican cultures since the ancient Aztecs in the 16th century.

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Eating Corn Smut

Huitlacoche can be prepared in many dishes, stews, tacos, tamales, quesadillas, or how I have had it before, in a succotash.  It can be eaten raw, but most folks will sautee it with seasonings to really let those earthy mushroom-like flavors shine. Surprisingly, huitlacoche has more protein and the immune-boosting amino acid, lysine, than regular ole corn. Here is a great video I found of the simple steps to cook delicious corn smut.

Would you ever try this ancient delicacy? I promise you will be pleasantly surprised! More importantly, does anyone know of a restaurant in the Owensboro-Evansville area that serves huitlacoche?

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