As a child holidaying in France, I was shocked to see dried-out corn cobs piling up in cages at the edge of fields.

The French consider maize to be animal feed, but for Native Americans from both North and South, it's a staple food, along with beans and squash.

In Mexico, maize or 'masa' was mixed with wood ash, which raised the vitamin level and unlocked amino acids. This process was vital to prevent Pellagra, a disease caused by the absence of niacin in the diet.

In South America, they use a special pre-cooked 'masarepa' to make arepas, which are flatbreads made from corn. You can buy masarepa in white or yellow form, (they can be mixed) online from Tesco.

The Italians use maize to make polenta, while popcorn is popular everywhere. I've noticed my teething granddaughter is a huge fan of gnawing on a section of corn on the cob. The beauty of maize is it's gluten-free, filling, naturally sweet and a worthy addition to our wheat-dominant diet. All variety is great for your gut micro-biome.

Ham & High: Grilled Corn saladGrilled Corn salad (Image: Kerstin Rodgers)

Grilled Corn Salad (Serves 4)

I love this for summer, it's filling, healthy and tasty. You can grill the corn on the cob on the bbq or dry roast them on a flat heavy weight frying pan on the hob.


4 corn on the cobs, as fresh as possible
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp salt
1 avocado, sliced
3 spring onions, sliced thinly
large handful cherry or small plum tomatoes, quartered or in eighths
handful fresh coriander leaves
1 small red chilli, chopped finely (optional)

For the dressing:

2 limes, zest and juice
3 tbsps your preferred salad dressing oil
1 tsp salt


Using a large saucepan, cover the corn on the cobs with boiling water, the salt and sugar. Boil for 10 minutes then remove and drain.
Put the corn on the cobs on either a bbq or dry roast on the hob. Keep turning so you get it slightly blackened on each side.
Put the cooked corn on the cobs in a glass (to stop it slipping) in a shallow wide bowl and cutting downwards, shave the corn from the sides of the cob into the bowl.
Add the rest of the ingredients, along with the dressing and serve.

Ham & High: Arepas with cheeseArepas with cheese (Image: Kerstin Rodgers)

Arepas With Cheese (Serves 5)

There are many different versions of this South American dish, and each country does it slightly differently. The word 'Arepa' stems from the indigenous peoples term for maize, 'arepa'. They are gluten-free.


300 g masa arepa
450 ml water
1 tsp salt
1 ear or small tin of fresh sweet corn
butter/veg oil for frying
200 g Wensleydale cheese, thinly sliced


Mix the masa arepa, the water and salt together in a bowl. Leave to stand for 10 minutes or so.

Form balls then flatten them into burger sized patties.
Add the sweet corn. If using fresh, cut the sides away from the cob and add to the mixture. If using tinned, drain and add to the arepa mixture.
Heat up a cast iron/ flat frying pan/crepe maker on the stove until hot.
Add oil/butter to the pan and fry the arepas for 2 or 3 minutes on each side to seal them.
Lower the heat, add a lid and let them cook/steam inside for 8 to 10 minutes.
Remove and top with cheese. Serve with chilli sauce if desired.

Ham & High: Corn on the cob Mexican styleCorn on the cob Mexican style (Image: Kerstin Rodgers)

Elotes corn on the cob Mexican style (Serves 4)

The magic ingredient here is Tajin, which is a dried mix of lime, chilli, salt and other spices. This is sold all over Mexico and added to crisps, fruit, popcorn and anything else you fancy. You can buy it online or at the Spanish food shop Garcia's in Portobello road.


4 sweet corn on the cob
300 ml sour cream or creme fraiche
100 g grated parmesan or cotija Mexican cheese or crumbled feta
A shake of Tajin or Chipotle sauce or, if you don't like heat, sweet paprika
1 lime quartered
Sea salt to taste


In a large pan of boiling salted water, boil the corn cobs until tender (about 10 minutes).
Attach forks, skewers or corn on the cob holders to the corn.
Then using the 'handle' to turn the corn, grill it over a flame or under a grill to get it slightly blackened.
Pour the sour cream into a shallow bowl and dip the length of the corn into it.
Sprinkle the parmesan or other cheese over the corn cob.
Shake the Tajin over it or pour a little chilli sauce, add a squeeze of lime and a sprinkle of sea salt to each cob.
Serve immediately (but actually it's also good cold)