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Simply Food

October 19, 2012
By Wendy Monro , The Journal

It's amazing how a little thing can pique your interest and you want to learn more. Then, you delve further, in order to gain more knowledge into something, and it turns out to be even more fascinating than you ever dreamed.

That is what happened to me this week as I tried to come up with something tasty to make for my article. As usual, I looked through countless recipes and read many articles. Then, I came across a recipe, which incorporated hominy. Huh I had never tried hominy before. Well, I have had grits but I am not sure if that is the same. Grits may be ground up hominy but don't quote me on that. I'm just guessing here.

When I was a little girl, my grandmother lived in the South. Each year she moved. She lived in Little Rock, Ark., Shreveport, Texas, Baton Rouge, La., Houston, Texas, and San Antonio, Texas. Each time she moved, I would travel to her new place for a weeklong visit in the summer. We ate grits for breakfast and had okra with our dinner.

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Submitted photo
Posole, made vegetarian style with eggplant, tomatoes, chili peppers, celery and hominy.

My favorite type of food was Tex-Mex. Everything was so yummy. My most beloved thing to eat while she lived in the South, were the sopapillas. These were fried tortillas, which puffed up in oil. They were sprinkled in powdered sugar. We poked a hole in these and poured honey inside. Oh, this was heaven to an eight-year-old girl. It was a bite of hot, sweet, drippy, sugary, greasy, loveliness. My grandma took me to 7-11 every day for a Coke Icee and then to a Tex-Mex restaurant each night for dinner with sopapillas. I was so spoiled when I spent my week with her.

All of these memories came flooding back to me when I ran across this recipe for posole because it had hominy in it. Hominy makes me think of the South even though I don't remember ever trying it. I see cans of it in the store all of the time but I never knew what I would make with it until this recipe came along. First I read that posole is a rustic stew eaten year round in the pueblos of New Mexico. I remembered that I have seen this as a soup listed on Mexican restaurant menus.

However, and this is where the deeper knowledge became fascinating, there is more to the posole story. Ancient Mexicans believed that the gods made humans out of masa or cornmeal dough. Really, they actually believed people were made out of corn? I guess our skin seemed cornmeal like to them. Strange. But wait, it gets stranger. So, corn was thought of as a sacred food to the Aztecs and others from Mesoamerica. These pre-Colombian people only ate corn for special occasions. I would think it would be weird to eat the ingredient that we were supposedly made out of.

Fact Box


Time: 45 minutes

Serves: 4

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup celery, sliced

2 leeks, sliced

2 cloves garlic, sliced

1 zucchini, sliced thick

1 small eggplant, diced

2 cups cherry tomatoes

1 large can hominy

1 can diced tomatoes with chili

3 bay leaves

1 tablespoon Mexican saffron

2 tablespoons oregano

4 cups vegetable broth

2 cups water

1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped

1 teaspoon fresh sage, chopped

salt to taste

1 avocado, diced

4 tablespoons cilantro, chopped

1 tablespoon red chili flakes

In a large pot, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add celery and leeks. Saute for a few minutes. Add garlic, zucchini and eggplant. Saute for ten minutes more. Add tomatoes, hominy and diced canned tomatoes with chili. Add bay leaves, saffron, oregano and mix well. Pour in broth and water. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer for twenty minutes. Add fresh herbs. Salt to taste. Add diced avocados, cilantro, and chili flakes to garnish.

That seemed strange enough, until I read further. Wait for it. When meat was added to the corn for these ancient sacred rituals, human meat was used. Yes! Human meat! Sorry. I know that is really gross to think about. I just felt that it was interesting enough to mention in the article. How could I leave out that historical fact? These ancient people ate human meat and the hominy as an act of religious communion.

Later, cannibalism was banned, and they substituted pork because they believed pork, "tasted similar." Eeewww. That might put you off pork for a while. I know it has for me.

Well, needless to say, I had to make my version vegetarian. I couldn't stomach the pork version. I think I would always be thinking about those ancient humans. I did make it very hearty by adding eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, chili peppers, celery, and (of course) hominy. I was really impressed with how it turned out. The hominy made it more filling and so delicious. I love the chewy texture of it and not because it reminded me of eating skin. Huh, maybe it was a bit fleshy. Turns out hominy is corn processed to remove the hull and germ and in such a way that allows it to puff up to twice its original size. It's really interesting to eat and is not sweet like sweet corn at all. It has a blander flavor but works well in dishes such as posole, which already has so many flavors. If you weren't completely grossed out, I'd give posole a shot (with or without the pork). It really is delicious.



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