Corn meal is an good grain source for making all kinds of dishes. The use of this product, as well as corn and corn flour, comes from Native Americans, and for centuries, certain recipes from Mexico were many people's first experience with it. Corn tortillas combine it with a little water and salt. Either patted or rolled into rounds and lightly cooked on both sides, many dishes can be made from tortillas, including tacos, enchiladas, flautas, tacquitos, and quesadillas.
Many people enjoy hot corn meal mush topped with a little bit of molasses as a breakfast dish. Alternately, grits is made from coarser ground corn, and can be eaten as porridge or fried and topped with gravy.
It's also an essential ingredient in corn bread or corn muffins, which can be made in either sweet or savory versions. Blueberry muffins that include this ingredient are an excellent breakfast starter, and savory corn meal with sage and onion can be used as a base for homemade stuffing for poultry.
In Italy, corn-based porridge is made in flat sheets, or sold in tubes as polenta. Polenta is often used as an alternative to pasta, and it can served as the base of a sauce or meat dish. It may also be fried and eaten in squares or served as a breakfast cereal.
Some pizzas are also dusted with this product on the bottom instead of wheat flour, adding a little crunch to the crust when it is baked. Romanians serve a dish quite similar to polenta called mamaliga. It’s often served with cheese or sour cream on the side.
Some interesting modern takes on this product incorporate Mexican flavors into casserole form. For example, tamale pie has a ground beef or shredded chicken base that is covered with about 1 inch (2.54 cm) layer of cooked corn meal, and then baked.
Many African recipes use this ingredient as a starch or main part of a meal. In Zambia, nshima is a very thick version of the US variety, and it is usually served with meat or nuts, and a vegetable. Ugali, similar to polenta, is common in West Africa, and it is rolled into a ball and dipped into gravies or stews.
A number of countries integrate corn into regional dishes, though in countries outside of the Americas, these dishes were not popular until corn was imported in the 17th century or later. Now, it’s common to find corn meal used in African, Middle Eastern, and European Cuisine. Of course, the oldest recipes will always date to Native American sources.