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Feb 14 2014

What a Load of … Corn!

While I was in Peru, I saw more different types of corn/maize in a variety of colours than I had ever seen.  Since I’ve been writing about Peru recently, I thought I may as well continue the theme for this Foto Friday.

When I took this photograph, I didn’t know much about corn and had no idea of its importance or history.  For that reason, I had to do a bit of research and found out a few interesting facts that you may or may not already know.

Corn is the most widely grown grain crop throughout all the Americas and Brazil was the world’s largest exporter of it in 2012-2013.  I can believe that because, when I was returning to São Paulo after the Rio Carnival, we stopped at a shop that only sold corn products.  Can you believe it?  It wasn’t just corn on the cob but drinks and ice cream.  It was like a whole new world had just opened up to me.  Until then, I had neither heard of nor tasted anything other than corn on the cob, sweet corn, and popcorn.  Yup, I had led a sheltered life.  A corn drink and ice cream didn’t sound particularly appetising, but the only way to be sure is to try it.  The locals seemed to love it, so I tried both and was pleasantly surprised.  Peru might not be the largest exporter nor have shops selling corn products only, as I experienced in Brazil, but it has a whopping 55 varieties.  That’s more than anywhere else in the world.

With technological advances, scientists have been able to prove their theory that ancient Peruvians must have survived on something other than fish because of the number of large inland settlements.  They discovered that up to 5,000 years ago, corn was produced on a large scale and was the main part of the early Peruvian diet.  Not only that, but it was also a key contributor to their economy.

The kernel might be larger in the crops grown today, but corn is still an important part of the Peruvian diet.  For that reason, you will have to taste some of the delicious corn-based dishes, which vary from region to region, while you’re in Peru and some of the corn drinks or snacks, like the ice cream, when you’re in Brazil. 

Have your say 

What interesting corn dishes have you tried in Peru, Brazil, or anywhere else?  Are you as surprised as I was by some of the facts?

About the author

Teresa Keane

Teresa has been to almost 60 countries. She started travelling independently at the age of 38 when she gave up her job, rented out her house, put her possessions in storage and spent a year travelling the world. It changed her life. She now creates, publishes, & promotes online travel content and is an experienced freelance trainer & EFL teacher.

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