The corn is a relatively new product on European tables since, as is known, was introduced in the rest of the world after the discovery of America.
A plant relatively known and already cultivated in all of Central America, especially by the Maya who used the dried beans or cooked and who first realized the flour, cooking it even by hand, just as you do now with the polenta.
The corn has been known for thousands of years in some areas of Mexico, was the staple food of Maya and was cultivated not only in the fields but also in the valleys and on rocky slopes. It was prepared and consumed in many different ways, for example in the form of tortillas or tamales and for the preparation of ‘atole, a hot drink.
Essential to the survival of the Mesoamerican civilizations, the corn had a leading role also in mythology, religion and ritual ceremonies. The Aztecs, the Mayans and the Incas gave the emperor Montezuma thousand tons of corn.
No coincidence that the quarter of the eighteen months of the ancient Aztec calendar is devoted just to corn. Ancient rites related to the various stages of its sowing, harvest and subsequent roasting testify to the importance that the golden grains were in the eating habits of those ancient peoples. Which over the centuries it joined by many others: the semi-nomadic tribes of North and South America, but also the Chileans and Argentines and some Caribbean populations.
It is therefore in Colombo on record imports into Europe of corn, also called “corn” to this day.
In 1525 its use was widespread in Spain and Portugal. Italy was the first in Campania to adopt this type of cultivation, then followed by Veneto and Emilia.
Corn entered the Italian food tradition giving life to what is usually called “the civilization of polenta”.
In the early twentieth century, the cultivated varieties are poorly sorted and the plants show great differences so as to give the impression of a certain disorder. In Brianza corn called Carlon namely, fashionable Charles V, most notoriously messy (“dress carelessly”).
Until the 1950s the corn is grown “by hand”. In plain cultivation it is entrusted to the wives of employees or the whole family, which retains in this way the chance to work as sharecroppers; This contract is called “right to hoe”; for the time, a family wage had the opportunity to cultivate about half a hectare of maize in partnership with the property, according to the patterns of economic sharecropping granting the tenant half of the product.
From 1948 to 1958 with the introduction of hybrids, the Italian production goes from 20 million to 38 million tons. The new cultivation technique changes the texture of the fields. The distance between the rows depends on that of the separators of the picker head (70 – 80 cm), while that along the row is linked to the final density to be obtained (from 3 to 4 plants / m² of the traditional varieties of the hybrids to double modern). Despite these innovations until 1960, manual labor is still relevant: thinning, weeding, ridging, and the recovery of the ears falls during the harvesting will be carried out mainly by women.
POLENTA, HISTORY AND RECIPES
The word “polenta” is derived from the Latin puls. This type of preparation, in fact, originally involved the use of cereals then known as spelled, buckwheat, millet, foxtail millet, barley, and it was topped with milk, cheese, meat or lamb or pork with sour sauce. The current recipe of polenta corn proposed in different Italian regions are based largely on ancient preparations of puls Roman.
The wafers are produced with the broken corn and peeled degerminato.