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Not many know that corn or “mais” - the name used by the Haitians to indicate the “Indian corn” which they offered to Christopher Columbus - exactly like fruit, is found in nature in numerous varieties; different in origin, aromatic qualities, yield, and resistance. From the 1950’s, the traditional varieties of corn have been risking extinction, due to the market invasion by hybrid forms from America: higher yield, but of lower quality and less complex aromas.

To make cakes and cookies, our grandmothers used to use “Pignoletto” corn and other local varieties according to location and local traditions: we trusted their experience and rediscovered the same varieties for the production of our cookies: the Ottofile, the Pignoletto, and the Nostrano dell’Isola.


The antique varieties of corn


 

OTTOFILE


If you want to show your skills in being a connoisseur of fine antique corns and able to identify a variety with just one look, the ottofile is the perfect choice for you! This strain from Torino, which is also found in La Morra and Tortona regions, distinguishes itself for its “eight rows” (from which comes its name) in which the kernels are arranged around the corncob. The ottofile’s foliage is lively yet tender, and in the presence of wind, it seems to “sail,” which increases the risk of breaking the branch. This type of plant is, however, rustic and tough; in the hours that follow summer storms, it is not rare to find the romantic ottofile - which bends yet does not break - curve itself upwards in order to return to looking up at the sun.




 

PIGNOLETTO


A corn from Torino, Cuneo and Canavese regions, has seeds which are liked by the small birds. Maybe this is what caused nature, in which everything happens for a reason, to form the Pignoletto grains in a teardrop form, slightly pointed, and whose nickname is the “pointed dog’s tooth.” There are two types of pignoletto: “yellow pignoletto” and “red pignoletto”: the flour obtained from the former has a sweeter taste, while that of the latter has a sharper taste, with slight bitter hints, and is the one most frequently used in meliga recipes.



 

NOSTRANO DELL'ISOLA


The kernel of the nostrano dell’isola is very small, and is the typical color of corn: a rich yellow with shades of orange and a glassy transparency: it is probably the ear of corn which we all have in mind. The flour obtained by the milling of these grains has a sweet and pleasing taste and, when combined with water, is the principal ingredient of the Quincinetto’s (a small town in Torino) typical cookie, le miasse, or small rectangles of corn flour, cooked on a griddle until crunchy - delicious when dusted with sugar while still warm!