The Breakfast of Champions

When we started going regularly to the Jamaica market some months back, we used to take breakfast before leaving. Of course this is not a good idea because most of the merchants give you samples of food to taste, so you ended up having breakfast twice. It is kind of like going to those large surface mega-stores at lunch time where at the beginning of every aisle stands somebody preparing some form of frozen food, but with fresh fruits and food.

The corn season started early this year, and some weeks ago we noticed that the cooked corn sellers had started to sell their wares in quantity. This is not the kind of sweet corn that I am familiar from Canada, but elote the large grain corn with white kernels that is popular here. It is very tasty, but without the extreme sweetness that I am used to. At the market they normally sell it cooked in 3 different ways. The simplest form is simply boiled, and normally they stick a sharpened wood stick in the widest end, and slather it up with lots of mayonnaise, lime juice, grated cheese, and chili piquin powder. I tend to stay away from that stuff as the thought of mayonnaise on corm kind of revolts me. Another way that is it prepared, and that I love a lot, is esquite mainly boiled corn kernels with butter, red chili jalapeño, epazote (a local herb with a peculiar taste and a slightly spicy flavor), and salt. Prepared properly it is great tasting and also a nice side dish. I think that next week I will buy some to accompany some nice large scallops that I have in the freezer.

My favorite way of eating this corn is simply grilled over charcoals. They start it in the husk then open the husk to caramelize the kernels until they have a nice blackened appearance. The texture of the kernels gets very chewy from the process, and since the kernels are large they can develop a nice sticky blackened crust and still be nice and chewy underneath. Those are normally sold in the husk with lime juice and chili piquin powder on them.

A few weeks ago we started our new market breakfast ritual. On our weekly trip to the market we have a small portion of yogurt before leaving, so that our stomachs are not empty, and then enjoy some fresh fruits samples from our regular fruit merchant which we normally visit first. Today she gave us some tasty manila mango, some tuna (the fruit of the nopal cactus, not the fish), some melon, and some grapes. The perfect start to the breakfast of champions! After buying the fruits for the week, we bought vegetables, and then stopped at the corn merchant on our way back to the car. We each picked 2 small ears of grilled corn, roasted the way we like them best, and had them prepared with a lot of lime juice and some salt and chili powder, and climbed back up to the roof of the market where we park the car. We then sit in the car with the doors open, and enjoy our tasty corn before leaving to complete our other shopping chores. There is no better way to start your day…


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