Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Culinary Byte

Corn By Any Other Name...

The word corn was first used to describe any grain, even of salt, as in corned beef. It also means the "small, hard seed or fruit of a plant," as in peppercorn. So when pre-Columbian Old World writings mention corn, they can mean many things, but maize is not one of them.

The word maize came from the Spanish, who picked it up from the Arawak Indians of the Caribbean, where maize means "stuff of life." Maize was domesticated in central Mexico by about 3400 B.C. It quickly became the basic crop and spread north to the cliff dwellers in the American Southwest and to Cahokia, and south to the Inca Empire.

Taken from Cuisine and Culture

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