|My babies. What stories we'll tell together.|
I'm calling my farmtastical journey this summer the "Authentic Corn Tortilla Project." I bet you've heard nothing quite like it. There's a reason for that.
I have this crazy idea -- a notion, a fever, or maybe it's just a plain ol' halluciation -- that I can make something different, something good, something unique that starts in the dirt out by my shed just the other side of my drain field. Well, plenty the other side of my drain field.
I'm not sure if it's brilliant, or foolish. The line separating the two seems pretty darn thin.
My idea to make real corn tortillas from really old school corn with genes that go back hundreds, if not thousands, of years was birthed out of my own observations. It started with the corn I let dry on the stalk last summer and thinking, "What the heck? Couldn't I make corn flour out of this stuff?"
You know, for like cornbread? And, well, grits?
The answer proved to be yes. Or near as I could tell it was yes. Thanks to some fortuitous discoveries on the world wide web of the history of corn and masa -- the kinda gooey, corn flour-based substance from which legit tortillas are made -- some video of some hardcore food truck guys in LA who are really, really passionate about their tortillas, and assorted other articles and videos about ancient Mexican corn strains, I thought, "Why not?"
Why not try it here in my back yard? Why can't I go all foodie-grow-your-own with a big splash of experimentation that could, it really could, end up being amazing?
So here I am. On a chilly spring night listening to raindrops clattering against my office window, a day after I planted those first 50 seeds of Hopi Purple Corn. I'm plotting to plant a couple more squares of corn and wondering how -- if? -- it will all play out.
I scored my corn seeds from a catalog that was produced in podunk Missouri. For reals. Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. You can find them at www.rareseeds.com. They produce this gloriously extravagant 146-page catalog and sell more than 1,800 varieties of seeds from more than 100 countries.
Seriously. These guys don't play when it comes to seeds.
Tomatoes from Iraq? Done. Cassabanana melons from Guatemala? Just a click away. And don't forget your wild apple seeds from Tajikstan. I don't kid! This stuff will literally blow your mind!
I mean, dude, it's a gardening nerd's paradise. I know because I'm one of those gardening nerds.
So yes, I really did just drop some purple corn seeds into a plot of dirt that I carved out of my back yard and fertilized with a pickup load of bona fide horse poop I got for free from a horse farm off Hickory Fork Road.
I'll water those seeds, let the rain fall on my corn, take photos and videos of it all. I'm not embarrassed to say I'll be out there speaking kind words to those babies of mine. I believe in positive reinforcement after all.
|My lovelies. My early inspiration from last summer.|
I'll watch my corn grow in the oppressive, sultry Virginia heat. Then I'll watch my corn dry in the oppressive, sultry Virginia heat. Then I'll harvest my corn in the oppressive, sultry Virginia heat.
I'm worried about the bugs. So nasty, those bugs. The weeds are going to be a straight nuisance. I foresee lots of sweaty labor in my near future.
It'll all be worth it. Right?
Of course, because sometime late this summer, in the oppressive, sultry Virginia heat, after the stalks have shriveled and crunch like potato chips and the ears of corn have dried to like they're little tiny rocks, it'll be time.
Come to purple tortilla time.
I'll grind up the corn, tap my buddy Frank Villa's family masa-manufacturing expertise, and make those blessed purple tortillas. We'll have purple tortilla chips and dip them in salsa I make with onions, tomatoes and poblano peppers that I harvest right out of my garden, just a row or two from my corn. They'll all be best buds this summer.
Seed to table.
Dirt to mouth.
That's the plan.
I mean, that's my dream.
You start something and you never quite know how it will all turn out.
That's what's so great about it, though. It's what's so great about dreams. The finding out. The chasing. The determination to see things through. The seeing if you have it. That grit. That passion and drive.
The worst thing you can ever do is not try.
So here goes. Come along for the ride.
The great, the fabulous, the crazy Authentic Corn Tortilla Project.
For the YouTube version of all this tomfoolery, go here: Getting corny