Nov 21, 2008

Zen (?) Friday

Sorry Petrea. I'm feeling fuzzily disjointed today. I set out to find the perfect corn bread recipe, but failed. Heading in I knew nothing of corn bread. I learned that there are distinct Southern and Northern varieties. But which one should I side with? I had corn bread two or three times maybe and didn't even like it much, but maybe they were not good ones. Would I even recognize a good one?

Even the concept of corn bread was unknown to me when I was growing up in Hungary. Why is it? We had corn. Though it mostly served as chicken feed. Eggs of corn-fed chickens have deep yellow, almost orange yolks. We also cooked corn in water, with the husk, simmering it over low heat for an hour or so. Yumm.

My father was a writer, but at one point he gave up city life, moved to the country and took up raising chickens. That's how I learned how to put a chicken into a catatonic daze without hurting it. You pick up the chicken, tuck its head under its wing, then you swing it gently sideways a few times, back and forth. When you put it down it will just stay there motionless. To wake it up you just give it a little shove.

In Missouri I learned to wrap up corn in foil and bake it in the oven like baked potatoes. Apparently it's a Midwest thing - like fried (pig) brain sandwiches.

How does it happen? How come one culture looks at corn and decides to grind it up and feed it to chickens, another decides to grind it up and bake with it?

PS. Don't get me started on peanut butter.


altadenahiker said...

And don't get me started on pop corn.

My word verification: Yoffsk. Popped cornbread fed to chickens in Eastern Europe.

Vanda said...

Chickens are the poultry version of pigs: they will eat anything you put in front of them. Even popped corn bread.

Petrea said...

My perfect cornbread recipe (don't hate me because I'm a kitchen moron): Trader Joe's mix.

I grew up in DeKalb, Illinois, the corn capital of the world. I could go on, but I don't think you want me to.

Miss Havisham said...


Zen it is.

Since you were born in Hungary, I just learned lots of things went on there in the early nineties that I didn't know about. I've just finished a novel by Arthur Phillips, Prague. He's a funny writer, sometimes he refers to one side of the river as the Buda side or the Pest side. You might enjoy the book. it's in the public library along with a recipe for iron skillet Southwestern cornbread with Ortega chilis.

Vanda said...

Petrea, that's funny, I picked up a box of Trader Joe's mix. And I want you to go on.

Miss Havisham, I was gone by the 90's, but the book sounds interesting, I will check it out. Buda an Pest indeed have their distinct identities. Pest is flat, busy, Buda is hillish, older in cobblestoned kind of way.

Btw, thanks for reminding me that I need to get a cast iron skillet.

Petrea said...

Vanda, we will meet in person one day and I will tell you all I know about corn.

Tash said...

Vanda - no cornbread but definitely cornmeal (pura, proja in Serbo-Croatian, polenta in Italy). I ate it at my grandmothers as a kid in former Yugoslavia. Had it for breakfast with milk & with porkchops with the fat from the drippings - yum.

Vanda said...

Tash sorry, doesn't ring a bell. I had a corn meal deprived childhood.