Friday, July 26, 2013

Getting to Know Cornmeal

 A matchbook cover, the Czech Republic

Most of the corn in Turkey is grown in the south, however, it is the people in the northeast thanks to whom cornmeal has taken its significant place in Turkish cuisine. They owe a lot to corn since they use it to make cornmeal, which - depending on the type - is used for almost anything edible including cornbread, baby food, cakes, desserts, cookies, oil, starch and sugar. However widely it is consumed and advertised in the Black Sea region in Turkey, corn products are not so popular in the other parts of Turkey. In supermarkets, the top selling corn products are corn starch, corn oil and cornmeal respectively. The popularity of corn-based foods are restricted roughly to the cities in the north.

Well, here in Sarajevo, they call cornmeal kukuruzno brašno and it is widely consumed. The supermarkets offer a range of different brands and types of quick-cooking cornmeal. Some cornmeal products are labeled as polenta - under the influence of Italian cuisine apparently- indicating that the cornmeal inside is exactly right for making the polenta dish. So, do not get confused about which one to buy while shopping. There is no difference between (processed) kukuruzno brašno and polenta.

Cornmeal has been considered here as the savior of working mothers because it takes only minutes to prepare a delicious and quite filling meal if you have a cup of cornmeal and some butter and milk at home. The fact that it is almost instant also makes it considered in a way superior to (unprocessed) slow-cooked cornmeal which you can also find at street markets and farmer's markets and less frequently supermarkets. However, it takes much longer to get the best result with this type of cornmeal, so do remember to bake or fry it after simmering if you ever try making traditional polenta using this type of cornmeal. 

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