Maize (known as corn in America) constitutes a staple food in many regions of the world. Corn can be harvested and consumed in the unripe state, when the kernels are fully grown but still soft. Unripe corn must usually be cooked to become palatable; this may be done by simply boiling or roasting the whole ears and eating the kernels right off the cob. Such corn on the cob is a common dish in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom and some parts of South America, but virtually unheard of in some European countries. The cooked unripe kernels may also be shaved off the cob and served as a vegetable in side dishes, salads, garnishes, etc. Alternatively, the raw unripe kernels may also be grated off the cobs and processed into a variety of cooked dishes, such as maize purée, tamales, pamonhas, curau, cakes, ice creams, etc. Sweetcorn, a genetic variety that is high in sugars and low in starch, is usually consumed in the unripe state.
Popcorn is kernels of certain varieties that explode when heated, forming fluffy pieces that are eaten as a snack. Roasted dried maize cobs with semi-hardened kernels, coated with a seasoning mixture of fried chopped spring onions with salt added to the oil, is a popular snack food in Vietnam. A unleavened bread called Makki di roti is a popular bread eaten in the Punjab region of India and Pakistan.
Corn flakes are a common breakfast cereal in North America and the United Kingdom, and found in many other countries all over the world.
Hominy and grits
Maize can also be prepared as hominy, in which the kernels are soaked with lye in a process called nixtamalization; or grits, which are coarsely ground hominy. These are commonly eaten in the Southeastern United States, foods handed down from Native Americans, who called the dish sagamite.