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Homeowner perplexed after discovering unusual 'delicacy' hiding in garden: 'It's one of the most unique and delicious things'

"Imagine truffles but corn."

Corn smuts, One of the most unique and delicious things

Photo Credit: iStock

Smut is frowned upon in most circles — unless you're a corn enthusiast. In that case, it's a delicacy, as one Redditor recently discovered.

"Any idea why my corn cob did this?" the person inquired in the r/gardening subreddit. They posted several photos of a corn cob with grayish bulbous growths protruding from its kernels.

Corn smuts
Photo Credit: u/Spoofo9t9 / Reddit

Thanks to the community, the poster learned that this is a type of fungal growth called "smut." The fungus, Ustilago maydis, is naturally present in the soil and can transform corn kernels into strange-looking grayish blobs overnight. 

For many U.S. farmers, this fungus is a big pain in the ear, as just one discolored kernel can make an entire ear unsellable. The phenomenon even has a foreboding name — "devil's corn." 

U.S. growers and the government have responded to the threat of smut by spending millions of dollars trying to eradicate it and breeding strains of corn that are resistant to the fungus.

But in other parts of the world (like Mexico, where it is called huitlacoche), devil's corn is a delicacy. Not only does it have an "inky, mushroomy flavor that is almost impossible to describe," according to writer Diana Kennedy, but it also packs nutrients — high amounts of the essential amino acid lysine and lots of fiber and protein. That makes a plate of corn and huitlacoche a complete protein meal.

Ready to try this tasty fungus? Although huitlacoche culture hasn't completely swept the U.S. just yet, you can find it in some restaurants like Rosa Mexicano's New York and Washington DC locations. You can also look for it from vendors like Oregon Mushrooms, local Mexican markets in your community, and other distributors.

Commenters were pretty revved up about the garden surprise.

"You just got huitlacoched!" one commenter exclaimed.

"Huitlacoche is caused by a fungus that takes your corn from sweet to smutty," another added. "You have been blessed by the dirty corn gods. Imagine truffles but corn."

Someone else linked to a Los Angeles Times article, saying, "It did it to become more delicious! Try this corn smut quesadilla recipe. It's one of the most unique and delicious things you'll ever have!"

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