By THÉRÈSE MARGOLIS
Corn, or maize, has been a key element in the Mexican diet since pre-Columbian times, and even today it is the core grain in most traditional Mexican recipes.
First domesticated by indigenous people in southern Mexico about 10,000 years ago, maize also played a key role in pre-Hispanic pantheon of deities, with the maize god, Hun Hunahpu, ranking among the most important.
Even today, Mexico is the world’s seventh-largest producer of corn, with an annual output of about 26 million metric tons, and it is still the most important crop nationwide, grown on almost 60 percent of the country’s cropland and contributing to just over 9 percent of human calorie intake and 14 percent of protein intake.
So, in recognition of the historical and dietary significance of this crucial grain — as well as Mexico’s first-ever observance of National Maize Day last Sept. 29 — three traditional restaurants in Mexico City have joined together this week to offer a special six-course Homage to Corn menu, replete with a wine pairing for each dish, available to the public from Thursday, Dec. 5, through Saturday, Dec. 7.
The menu — created by chefs Pilar Alonso of the newly opened Mexicano Masaryk restaurant in Colonia Polanco, José Bossuet of Manzard in Colonia Narvarte, and Jorge Valencia of La Sazón de Tlalpan in Colonia Tlalpan — is based almost entirely on southern Mexican recipes, with a heavy emphasis on Yucatan and Tabasco cookery.
The dinner will begin a lettuce and corn salad with fried bananas in a hibiscus flower and three-chillie dressing, followed by a trio of street-style flautas served with fresh cream and onions.
The third course will consist of a succulent filet of octopus on a bed of huitlacoche (black corn mushrooms) quiche in a black bean and chillie sauce.
Next up will be a pibipollo , a fired chicken dish traditionally breaded in corn crumbs that is traditionally served in the Yucatan during the Day of the Dead celebration, followed by the main course, a braised lambchop in a rich cinnamon-scented mole.
The dessert course will consist of fried banana tart made from ground corn and topped with cocoa and coffee cream with a crown of Ososingo cheese ice cream.
The first night, the menu will be presented exclusively at La Sazón de Tlalpan (located at Plaza de la Constitución 17D in Colonia Tlalpan Centro, tel: 55-5513-9508), the second night it will be presented at Manzard (located at Esperanza 560 in Colonia Narvarte), and on the final night, Saturday, Dec. 7, it will be presented at Mexicano Masaryk (located at Presidente Masaryk 192 in Colonia Polanco, tel: 55-5281-3515), in all three cases at 8 p.m. sharp.
The cost of the entire meal, with six wine pairings from Casa Domecq, is 1,500 pesos per couple or 950 pesos for each individual.
In the case of the Mexicano Masaryk presentation, the dinner will be accompanied by a live show of traditional Mexican music performed by the García Blanco Orchestra.
Reservations are mandatory since each restaurant will be offering only a limited number of menus.