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Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

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maize Zea mays, one of the most important cereal crops in the world, has another name: corn, used in N. America to refer to the sweet kinds of maize (sweetcorn) suited to human consumption; and in numerous familiar words and phrases such as popcorn, ‘corn on the cob’, etc. In southern Africa it is called mealie (from the Portuguese, milho).

Like millet and sorghum, maize is a kind of grass, readily distinguished from its relations by the large seed heads (cobs), and by the relatively short time which it takes to mature.