Corn Breads

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

corn breads a term which refers to breads based on maize. There are two traditions: the first is that of the Americas, where maize originated, while the second is that of Europe and Europeanized societies for whom maize was an ancillary rather than a staple, and where corn breads were usually variations on wheaten breads rather than forms in their own right.

The corn breads of the aztec and maya, tortillas and tamales, remain highly visible in mexico and the rest of what was Mesoamerica, and have become prominent in N. America too, and indeed internationally. Coe (1994) cites amazingly long lists compiled by a Spanish observer of the various kinds of tortilla and tamale which were on sale when the Spaniards arrived in America. Although tamales, in particular, were and are usually stuffed, it remains correct to refer to them, as well as to tortillas, as breadstuff.