“Global Food, Locally” is a series designed to introduce you to the International and Area Studies Library’s new graduate assistants as well local dining options for food from around the world. In our fourth installment, Quetzalli reviews Maize Mexican restaurant, a Champaign-Urbana favorite.
Welcome to the next installment of Global Food, Locally! After having a taste of Korean food, I decided that I wanted to go someplace close to home. No, I didn’t go all the way to Bloomington, Illinois for a home cooked meal. Instead, I decided to check out the famous Maize Mexican restaurant on the corner of Green and First.
Whenever I would inquire about good Mexican restaurants, Maize was always the top mention. I finally gave in and decided to check out the place. Maize is a very small restaurant with barely enough elbowroom, but since I had gone early in the day, there were plenty of seats open. The items available on the menu ranged from chips and tacos to carne asada.
I didn’t want to get the plain and simple carne asada tacos; I wanted to feel at home, so I ordered a dish of flautas. For those who are not familiar with flautas, they are a corn tortilla with filling inside, wrapped up and fried. I had mine with chicken and potatoes served with sour cream, lettuce, cheese and a side of Pico de Gallo and guacamole.
After I ordered, I sat down at a table near the window and was immediately brought some chips and salsa. The chips were crunchy and the salsa was spicy (as it should be). I only waited about seven minutes for my order and as the order was placed in front of me, my eyes widened, I smiled, and I immediately picked up a flauta and ate it.
I am not sure if I was really hungry or if I was so excited to have some authentic Mexican food, but I cleaned my plate. Since I am definitely planning on coming back, I looked through the menu again in order to plan my next meal at Maize. This time around, I noticed short section about the history of maize (the food, not the restaurant) on the back of the menu.
Thinking about it, I don’t know much about maize. My knowledge is limited and I decided that I wanted to know more about it. I visited the International and Area Studies Library page to see what I could learn about the subject. On the IAS homepage, there is a section titled, “Area Collections and Services.” I clicked on the section for Latin American and Caribbean Studies and it took me to a guide that lists a lot of available resources.
I knew I wanted an online resources, so I went to the “Online Resources for LA&C Studies” page. I checked out the Latin American Open Archives Portal and searched for “Maize and the Maya.” A list of results came up with some interesting findings, including “The Book of Corn” and one that especially caught my interest: “International Corn Recipes.” As a poor graduate student, I can use a variety of recipes centered around one staple food. It’s easy to forget that the Library has a variety of resources, such as cookbooks, that can come in handy for non-academic pursuits.
I would give my visit and meal to Maize a 10/10. I needed food that reminded me of home and I was able to get it there. The atmosphere and the food were amazing. If you’re ever in the area, I would definitely recommend going to Maize. I know that I’ll definitely be going back.