Residence: USC, from Los Angeles
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/28/15
Primary Language: English
Interviewee: Growing up, we kind of lived in I guess sketchier areas or whatever.
Interviewee: But I kind of miss it because the corn man would come by.
Interviewer: The corn man?
Interviewee: Yeah. Well there were like pretty much only Mexicans where we were. So the corn man was the old Mexican man who would come by and serve elotes to everyone.
Interviewee: Elotes. Mayo, butter, stinky cheese…
Interviewer: Stinky cheese.
Interviewee: Yeah. You know the stuff you put on pasta. Parmesan. Stinky cheese.
Interviewee: So yeah, mayo, butter, stinky cheese, and chili powder. He would carry like this big tub of corn. And then you would come out of your house and he would put that stuff on the corn. I mean, I love corn, but that is like the best way to eat it.
But then, you know we moved, kind of away from that area, so know we have to make it at my house, homemade.
Interviewer: Do you make it at school?
Interviewee: Yeah. Like if we’re barbecuing out here, I will throw some corn on the grill to and make elotes. But nothing will be as good as the corn man’s. He was like the ice cream truck man. Everyone, my parents, my brothers, the whole neighborhood would come out and get the corn man’s corn. And he would just walk up and down the street.
Interviewer: Hot dogs, hamburgers, and elotes?
I like this example for a few reasons. One is that the actual corn man himself seems to be somewhat of a legendary figure in this community. He comes in, shelves out delicious corn, and then leaves. It also seems like it has a sort of “locals only” feel to it, in that these people only come around these specific communities. More gentrified, less ethnic neighborhoods, are not privy to what they are missing out on.
It of course adds another element in that she makes it herself too. First it was her family, trying to recreate that delicious corn they had once they moved from the neighborhood. Trying to use the corn to travel back to those moments of nostalgia, fittingly she makes the caveat that its better from the corn man himself, every time.
Then, now that she has brought the tradition and food to college it is now her trying to find home again. I like that she has passed it along to her friends, many of whom did not know about the food prior, inserting it as somewhat of a staple when they barbecue together, meshing these cultures and this nostalgic cuisine together.