From the elotero’s cart to the fine dining table, these sweet and savory, spicy and salty treats have taken a traditional corn-on-the-cob-based street fare across the borders—and up-and-down the contours—of the culinary landscape…
Elote and esquites have been staple street foods in Latin America for years. And recently, these delicious corn-based concoctions have been lighting it up in “highbrow” culinary settings, bringing authentic Mexican snacks out of the eloteros’ carts and onto menus throughout the United States.
Roasted over the grill and coated with salt, chile powder, butter, Cotija cheese, lime juice, and crema fresca (sub sour cream or mayonnaise if need be), these ears of sweet corn—called simply elote or "corn"—take on a tableaux of flavors—equal parts sweet and savory, tart and unctuous, spicy and soothingly creamy.
Serve with cilantro and roasted garlic, or—for an authentic floral flavor-kick—boil your corn in epazote, an aromatic herb prized throughout Latin America for its medicinal properties and floral flavor.
For those that prefer to spare their teeth the indignity of a kernel-caked smile, esquites gives you the same flavors sans the slathered cob experience.
You would be hard pressed to find a dish more perfect—one that conjures more powerful sense-memory and inspires more ardor. This may be plant-based eating at its best—and, I hope, a gateway to more outlandish Latin American street fare like Tostilocos—pickled pigs feet and Tostitos anyone?