Monday, July 19, 2010

The Zenchilada And Corn Cob Wine

photograph by Kat Kinsman, who also writes for Eatocracy

The Zenchilada is a new online magazine that aims to discuss the ways in which food can be "our vehicle for better understanding of ourselves and others." We'd like to thank Chuck, a reader from North Carolina, for suggesting this publication--we think that folks are really going to enjoy it.

What's fascinating about this magazine, most immediately, is it's format: when you direct your browser to the site, the current issue opens up, complete with an easy-to-use browser bar. The Zenchilada is gorgeously illustrated, and its layout is artfully done; the site accentuates these features without getting lost in the technology. What's also really exciting about this magazine (as opposed to the hundreds of other "cooking magazines") is that it's equally concerned with the culture that complements these dishes. A quick glance to this first issue's contributor's list speaks to this: chefs, food writers, poets and folklorists have all gathered in these pages to offer a range of perspectives on these foods' connections to people and place. 

The current issue opens with "Meditation on the Corn Tortilla Nation" by Ronni Lundy, the editor-in-chief and a founding member of the Southern Foodways Alliance, and the writing to follow also considers the culinary and cultural reach of maize. One piece that caught our eye was The Lee Brothers' introduction to corn cob wine. In this excerpt from their Southern Cookbook: Stories and Recipes for Southerners and Would-Be Southerners, they discuss and "end of the summer ritual" they learned from Gordon Huskey of Pigeon Forge, Tennessee:
Since it's difficult to shear all the kernels off the rounded cob, a fraction of sweet kernel gets left behind. Rather than send this residue to the compost pile, Huskey put it to a higher use, making wine by packing the half-naked cobs in a water-filled pail. Airborne wild yeasts did the work of extracting the remaining sugar from the cobs and converting it into alcohol. Corncob wine has a nice balance of sweet and tart and a nutty, unmistakably corny flavor.
Explore The Zenchilada for the corn cob wine recipe (on page 97) and to discover all kinds of other inspired takes on our staple crop. You'll also find poetry, storytelling, archaeology and some wonderful recipes within--we can't recommend this site/publication highly enough. It's a model for how we can use a sometimes-depersonalizing technology to share some profound stories with each other.