Monday, March 8, 2010
In Brazil, the edible corn which we called "sweet corn" is known as milho verde. This can be translated as "green corn." I'm not sure why it bears that name, as the grains are equally yellow in Brazil as in Iowa or Kansas or Ontario.
The corn plant is thought to have been first domesticated and cultivated in prehistoric Mexico, but prior to arrival of the first Europeans, it was known throughout large portions of both North and South America.
Pamonhas come in two basic varieties in Brazil, savory and sweet. I'm not sure if there are sweet tamales in Mexico, but I'm not familiar with them. Savory pamonhas are often filled with chopped meat or chicken, but can also be made "blind"; that is without stuffing. Sweet pamonhas are generally "blind" but can be flavored with coconut milk.
In my neighborhood in Fortaleza, every afternoon about 4 pm, I hear the sounds of the pamonha man coming from the street below. He rings a triangle as he walks by, shouting out the name of his wares - "Pamonha, Pamonha, Pamonha." In an age in which passing street-vendors have largely disappeared, it's a lovely reminder of earlier times and earlier ways to hear his call becoming louder as he approaches, and fading as he walks by. (Incidentally, his pamonhas are delicious, and only cost 1 real (about USD $0.50) each).