mesoamerica and the maya world


huitlacoche image

Huitlacoche, or cuitlacoche, is a unique ingredient of Mexican cuisine. Its English name is “corn smut,” which helps to explain why it has never quite caught on north of the Rio Bravo. (James Beard tried, to little avail, to overcome this by calling it “the Mexican truffle.”) It’s basically a corn disease caused by a fungus that replaces normal corn kernels with something that looks like mushrooms.

cuitlacoche from mexgrocer.comSmuts are a class of fungi that are parasitic on flowering plants and form black dusty spore masses that resemble soot or smut. A farmer in the U.S. who spots this on his crop will move heaven and earth to get rid of it. But in Mexico the smoky-flavored huitlacoche — said to signify “raven’s excrement” in Nahuatl — is viewed by many as a delicacy. It is used to flavor quesadillas, tamales, soups, and other dishes.

Corn Fungus Tamales, recipe by Aaron Sanchez
Huitlacoche Soup, recipe by Ellen and Tom Duffy
Monteblanco brand

Huitlacoche image by Kai Hirdes via Wikipedia
Monteblanco image via Mexgrocer



San Jose El Viejo, Antigua, Guatemala




  1. Huitlacoche…..Guacatela! Odio huitlacoche. Parece como carbon. La primera vez que lo probe, lo escupi y me enjuague la boca con agua. But don’t take my word for it. Try it for yourself! 🙂

  2. belle

    Although this mushroom looks anything but appetizing to my surprise I loved it. It does indeed have the taste similar to truffles but very inexpensive as opposed to the truffle. I am Canadian of Swedish background and this is not on our typical menu but I cant wait to go back to Mexico and try this again.

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