Huitlacoche is used to flavor quesadillas, crepes, tamales, burritos, soups, and all kinds of other dishes. In fact, huitlacoche is one of those certain food items along with tomatoes, mushrooms, asparagus, and seaweed that are said to have a distinctive flavor beyond the traditional categories of sweet, sour, salty, and bitter. This fifth flavor, or “savoriness” or “meatiness” is called “umami” by the Japanese and xiānwèi by the Chinese. The Aztecs believed that huitlacoche gave them special powers and was thought by them to be an aphrodisiac.
You can buy canned huitlacoche in the U.S. in Mexican groceries or in gourmet specialty stores but fresh huitlacoche is hard to come by and very expensive. It can cost anywhere from ten to twenty dollars per pound depending upon the region where you live. Fresh, young, immature huitlacoche is the best because ripe huitlacoche tends to be dried out and a bit powdery. For over a hundred years people have been trying to prove that huitlacoche is bad for you but some Mexican farmers eat it regularly and don’t seem to suffer any ill effects. So go ahead, check it out. It will be one of those things that you can you can point to with pride on your “Been there…done that!” list.