Granturco, Maize, or Pannocchia?

Corn is a human invention, believed to be originally cultivated in Central Mexico, where it is referred to as maize. The Indians througout North and South America depended upon this crop for most of their food. It eventually reached the Eastern part of North America about 1000 years ago.

When the first Thanksgiving was held in 1621 corn would have certainly been part of the menu, but cranberry, sweet potates and pumpkin pie most likely would not have been on the table.

Maize spread to the West in the 1500’s cultivating early in the Veneto region then arriving in Naples, Italy in the 1600’s. It became the base of the farmer’s food supply, used predominantly in polenta.

There are many terms for corn in Italian and it is my mission here to explain the differences, because I know you’ve been dying to know.

Maize means corn the term used in British English therefore used in Europe (Italy).

Granturco is a name given to corn as a result of improper translation from the English who called it WHEAT OF TURKEY, or grano dei tacchini, because of its resemblance to a turkey’s neck wearing a Turkish turban on its head, which could also be interpreted as grano di Turchia.

Pannocchia di granturcomeans corncob


Pannocchia (f) pertaining to the cob or ear, is another word for spiga, the female flower head which holds the kernals. It is improperly called pannocchia, which is actually the male flower head.   The cob is the spiga (f) (see below)

Spiga (f) is the female flower head, the cob, which holds the kernals le cariossidi

Pennacchio (m) male flower head at the top of the stalk

stocco/fusto is the stalk or stem fo the corn plant


So there you have it, your break down of corn in Italian, all just in time for Thanksgiving.

Buone feste!

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