Legend has it that in the 16th century, English settlers in the new world learned about the existence of popcorn from Native Americans. However, research has proved it was actually a millenary Mexican food, with evidence of popcorn dating to 3600 B.C. recently found in New Mexico. Not only was it consumed during Aztec ceremonies, it was also used as decoration in garland necklaces and headbands worn by girls.
The tradition was imported to North America, where it would soon become a favoured snack, readily associated with cinema and movie-houses at the turn of the 20th century. Its popularity increased during the Great Depression and the war years, as it was cheap and easy to cook. In the last few decades, new flavours have emerged, both sweet and savoury, so American food expert and cook Paige Couture has brought together 40 of the best, from salt and vinegar, Texas barbecue and mustard and cheddar to chocolate peanut butter, caramel or even maple bacon, in her new book Pop! 40 Recipes from Popcornland. Here, she shares her favourite recipe with AnOther, a delectable if unusual curry confection, alongside a gallery of the irreverent illustrations from her book.The basics - Stovetop popcorn
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
100 g (3½ oz/½ cup) popcorn kernels
Heat the oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over medium–high heat. Add popcorn, and shake to evenly coat the kernels with oil. Cover the saucepan with a lid and heat for 1–2 minutes, regularly shaking the pan back and forth. After a few minutes, you will hear the popcorn start to pop. Keep shaking the pan until the popping has slowed to once every 2–3 seconds. Remove from the heat, and immediately pour into a large bowl. For a delicious buttery flavour, substitute butter for half the oil.
Curry spiced popcorn
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons honey
75 g (2¾ oz) butter
1 x quantity Stovetop popcorn
Combine the curry powder, turmeric and salt in a small bowl. Melt the honey and butter together in a small saucepan over low heat. Drizzle the honey mixture over the popcorn. Toss to coat. Add the spice mix and toss again.
Pop! 40 recipes from Popcornland is now available from Hardie Grant Books.
Text by Marta Represa