Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Getting it in a tin

So, this is my tinned corn blog. I've not eaten much tinned corn in the last week so I've not updated the blog. So, to make up for it here's a video showing how tinned corn is, well, tinned. If you ignore the moronic commentary (the tin can was invented in 1810 and first used in the War of Independence - which one? The US one that took place 35 years before 1810). Anyhow, enough chitter chatter, here you go.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Inca - Contender 5

  • Brand: Choclo Inca
  • Description: Granos de choclo blanco tipo cremoso
  • Made in: Argentina
  • Weight: 350g
  • Drained Weight: N/A
  • Price: $5.75 (pesos)
  • Ingedients: Grains of Corn, Water, Salt, Starch, Sugar
  • Calories per portion: 45

As far as I know there aren't many Incas in Buenos Aires, but if there were, then they would have their brand of creamy corn. The label is not very inviting, the bowl of corn looking pretty washed out but it does on the side "Gracias Por Comprar Inca" (Thank You For Buying Inca), which is a nice touch.

Inca is actually a good brand name for corn as the Incas ate a lot of the stuff. It was their main crop and they used it for flour, bread and wine. Chicha is still drunk in Peru & Bolivia, it's essentially fermented corn and spit; the corn is chewed up to soften and and then spat into water.

When I stayed with a family in Paraguay my job was to help the 12 year old son to grind 2 kilos of dried corn grains in order to make the corn bread (confusingly also called chicha, or even more confusingly also known as sopa) that afternoon. It was New Year's Eve, something like 42C and we had to grind the whole lot twice to get it fine enough. God, it was hard work.

The flour was then mixed with water and made into a dough, and we all got to make our own shapes. It was then cooked in a brick oven which had been heated up by burning branches inside it. The branches came out, and the trays of bread went in. After 10 minutes it came out golden, beautifully hot and melt-in-your-mouth soft.

This is pretty much how the Incas made bread, very little about the process has changed. Not sure they ate tins of creamy corn, but I don't mind.
Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Taste Test #3

In the photo below you can see the contents of a tin of Gentleman corn (opens doors, never kisses and tells) bubbling away along with some tomatoes, onion, spring onions, leeks and parsley. It made a very nice salsa to go with the bife de chorizo and ravioli. The Gentleman, whilst never disappointing a lady, did let me down. Bland and soggy straight out of the tin, cooking it did not change that. It gave the salsa a little bit of crunch, which otherwise would have been lacking but very little else.

The photo however, also highlights an interesting feature of our flat here in Buenos Aires. The hob has three gas rings. There is room for a fourth, but it just ain't there. Simply a white flat expanse of metal. The back ring isn't even centred, just sits there all forlorn and alone. The front two have each other, they don't care about what's at the back. Maybe, once upon a time there were four, but it left home under a cloud. Nobody talks about it anymore.

Apart from that, it's not a bad stove overall. Of the three gas rings that are left, two are bigger than the other one, so you have some range there. Not that much however as each one basically has two settings. On and Off. The oven's the same, it takes 3 minutes to light, it's either on or off and heat escapes out of the door making the hob controls impossible to use without losing a finger. There's not a lot of subtlety in Tripod (which is what call it), but it does the job.
Monday, 5 July 2010

Help Needed

If you have any must-try recipes I can make using a tin of corn, then please leave me a comment and I promise to give it a try and let you know how I get one here. I already have a corn fritter one from my mum and a suggestion (rather than a recipe) for a corn pizza.

Other recipes and suggestions happily accepted! If I can find the ingredients here, I'll make it.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Gentleman - Contender 4

  • Brand: Gentleman
  • Description: Granos de choclo amarillo enteros
  • Made in: Brazil
  • Weight: 225g
  • Drained Weight: 200g
  • Price: $4.75 (pesos)
  • Ingedients: Grains of Corn, Water, Sugar and Salt
  • Calories per portion: 103

Once upon a time in Brasil there was a small village next to a river. It was a small village and the people who lived there were happy. The men caught fish and worked in the fields growing corn, while the women took care of the houses and the village. Children played and swam in the river, and when they grew up, they too fished and worked the fields.

All was well in the village until one year when they arrived at the market to sell their corn and found nobody wanted to buy. The market was already full of corn, it was impossible to sell what they had worked so hard to harvest. Farmers from other villages in other kingdoms had come to the market and sold their corn before them. The men from our village returned with no money, it was promising to be a hard winter.

One day, a stranger appeared in the village. The farmers had never seen anything him before and nobody knew where he came from. He was a man, yet his hair was long, and tied up in the style of young girl. In his hand he carried a colourful magical object which allowed him to talk to the spirits. He saw the sadness in the village and asked what was wrong. When he was told of the market he asked to speak to the chief.

He sat down with the chief and the village elders well into the night and told them of where he came from, a mysterious land where mighty carts roared and moved without donkeys and where corn was bought and sold freely, and he could help them sell their corn there. The men of the village were at first afraid and did not trust the strange man, but he said that if the bravest warrior of the village would go with him, he could prove everything he claimed.

The chief agreed and 3 moons later the warrior returned and told the entire village about the wonderful world he had visited where corn was available everywhere and how they should sell their corn to the strange man, and how all the problems were going to be resolved. The elders talked, but as the situation with the market had got no better, they agreed that they would sell their corn to the stranger.

And so, they went forth and sold their corn to the Chino. And the corn had a name. The corn's name was "GENTLEMAN".

Taste Test #2

Does corn have any unwanted side-effects? I mean, we know all about the beautiful crunch of the grain ripped straight from the cobwhen dripping with melted butter. We love the ease of tinned sweetcorn, revel in the splash of bright colour and bite it can add to a simple salad.

We know nothing about the risks of too much corn. One worry I have is that over-indulging in maize-y goodness could actual turn me yellow. So it was with some relief that taste test number 2 led me to try La Banda's Choclo Blanco Entero. (A small sidenote here. Don't worry, I have noticed that I haven't tested number 1 yet. Or at least haven't written about it. I bought the tin a week or so again, did the photos, did the write up and then I promptly forget all about reviewing it and have used it but I can't remember in what. It tasted like tinned corn, but I'll get round to it. Promise.)

Unfortunately the photos of the meal I made with white corn didn't come out so I can't show you what I made. Which is a shame cos it looked good. Stick some spring onions, diced carrot and half a red pepper in a wok with some oil and soften up. Add thinly sliced bife de chorizo until browned, then add a tin of tomatoes, a stock cube, water, tomato puree and a tin of Choclo Blanco Entero. Let it all simmer and bubble away while you're cooking the pasta of your choice (rice is also an option) and when it's done, drain the pasta, mix it in with the meat & vegetable sauce, sprinkle some grated cheese on top and eat. Most of what I cook is a variation on this theme, it's virtually impossible to screw up and so much variety is possible I never get tired of it.

On this occasion, as so often before, it didn't let me down. This time the new, untested factor was the white corn, and let me tell you something I wasn't expecting it to be so good. It lacked the sweetness of its yellow cousin (which may be down to the fact that there is no added sugar either, unlike the yellow varieties) and despite being cooked for a good 20 minutes it retained a lot of its texture and crunchiness. This combined with a clean, nutty flavour really worked with the meat and sauce, and lifted what is a regular dinner into something a bit special.

All told it overtakes Taste Test 1 (which in itself was a revelation) to take an early lead. I'm looking forward to trying it again, and if anybody out there has any ideas on how I can use the next white corn tin in CornWars, then by all means let me know.
Saturday, 3 July 2010

Taste Test #1

We all need something to distract ourselves from Argentina's expulsion from the World Cup a couple of hours ago, so let's have lunch.

If there was one thing I was expecting when I started out on this experiment was that I would actually discover something new. The whole point was that 17 types of corn is a bit silly and that corn is corn right? Well, not quite. The above picture is Contender #2, Arcor's Choclo Amarillo Cremoso. Simple to make, you dump it in a pan, warm it through and adorn with tomato that's been sitting in the fridge for a couple of days and some avocado slices (picked this idea up in Colombia).

It's winter in Buenos Aires at the moment, the days generally sunny but the nights a little chilly so it's good to have something warm and comforting to come home to. And this really works. It's sweet, a little too much if anything, but the corn taste really comes through with some good textures from the not entirely mushed up corn. It actually doesn't look much like the picture on the tin, where the corn is much more solid. But it tastes good, so I won't dock points for that. I couldn't even I wanted could I? I'm not giving out points.

Choclo cremosos definitely wins an early victory, the other tins now have something to be judged against.

Me vs Corn

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The other day I noticed that my local supermarket had 17 different kinds of tinned corn. Over the next few weeks I am going to try each one and review it here.
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