Cheap Eats:
Humita Mendocina

It's hard to imagine what eating would be like without the Age of Discovery. During this age of adventure and exploration, pasta reached Italy, cheese was introduced to Mexico, tea came to England, and sauerkraut arrived in Germany. But the biggest changes to world cuisine were all the foods that came out of the New World: corn, potatoes, tomatoes, chocolate, vanilla, peanuts, chilies and peppers, squash, turkey, avocado, cashews, sunflower seeds and oil, pineapple, wild rice, pecans. Food historians estimate that about 60% of the foods now enjoyed worldwide had their origins in the Americas.

Things have moved around between the different parts of the New World, too, and have been supplemented by delights from the Old World, like cinnamon, bay leaves, black pepper, and cow's milk, as in this recipe from Argentina. It's one of my favorite dishes. It's a great side dish, and goes well with something simple right off the grill. Which is appropriate, since we got "barbecue" from the New World, too — but that's another story.

Humita Mendocina

1 clove garlic, minced

1 large onion, chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 med. green pepper, chopped

1 tsp. salt

1 bay leaf

¼ tsp. black pepper

¼ tsp. ground cinnamon

1½ tsp. paprika

1 large, ripe tomato, chopped

12 ears fresh corn, cut off the cob, or 4 cups frozen or canned whole-kernel corn (about 2 cans)

½ cup milk

Sauté the garlic and onion in olive oil until tender. Add green pepper and cook 2 more minutes. Add salt, bay leaf, black pepper, cinnamon and paprika, mix well, and cook 1 minute. Add tomato and simmer 10 minutes. Add corn and milk. Cook, stirring frequently, over low heat for 15 minutes (or until corn is tender, if you're using fresh, instead of canned). Can be served hot or cold.

Serves 8.


To make it a little livelier, I generally replace a pinch of paprika with a dash of cayenne, and I use a rounded tsp. of cinnamon. It gives the dish a little more bite.


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