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Rick Bayless Is a Master of the Corn Fungus Taco

One man's meat is another man's poison

The first person to eat a huitlacoche had to be pretty brave, seeing as how the fungus is, well, a fungus, which grows from the ear of corn. It might not seem edible upon first glance but the treat is "pure luxury," according to celebrity chef Rick Bayless, who utilizes the rare shroom in a taco recipe featured on his YouTube channel.

"It actually grows in the ear of corn in the sense that when the corn kernel is pollinated, the spores for this fungus affect right in there and the mushroom itself grows in the kernel of corn," says Bayless in the video.

The result is something that resembles a bloated kernel of corn — or, as some may refer to it, "corn smut." The fungus ruins the corn, but increasingly, chefs are utilizing huitlacoche as an ingredient in its own right. According to Bayless, "one man's meat is another man's poison."

As for the taste, Bayless describes huitlacoche as both earthy, as mushrooms tend to be, and slightly sweet, like corn. For his recipe, Bayless adds the huitlacoche mushrooms to a medley of other mushrooms (oyster, lobster, hen of the woods), plus poblano peppers and epazote, an herb native to southern Mexico.

Taco Tuesday: Huitlacoche-Mushroom Tacos [YouTube]

Scourge No More: Chefs Invite Corn Fungus To The Plate [NPR]

All Video Interludes [E]

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