My earliest memory of eating cornbread is on a first grade field trip. A woman wearing a bonnet poked her head out of a covered wagon and offered me a crumbled yellow square straight from a cast iron pan. I took it and ate it. It was pretty good.
To be clear, the woman was wearing a bonnet and rummaging around in a long forgotten mode of transportation because she, and everyone else around her, were part of a historical re-enactment, a peek into what life looked like for settlers of the North American west. The field trip was the culmination of a historical unit on dust-coated pioneers who boarded rickety proto-cars and made their way across the vast American expanse. Over a century and a half later, I was just happy to be offered something to eat.
Since that strange first encounter, I've sampled many a cornbread. In Texas, they're requisite. I tossed back one a day — in muffin form, no less — in my high school cafeteria and have yet to go to a barbecue where they're not offered. Cornbread, like any good thing, varies across a spectrum. It can veer into dessert territory or swing back salty, as a savory accompaniment; it can be hard and dense or airy, fluffy and crumbling at the touch.
Our site has no shortage of cornbread recipes — and many, many ways to purpose it into other foods. Try your hand at a loaf, then play around with it. And if offered, always accept a bit of cornbread from a woman in a bonnet. You won't regret it.
Start with the bread
This story was originally published on Food52.com: Get corny: 15 ways to enjoy soft and sweet cornbread.