The South American Corn-Based Drink You Should Know

Corn may seem like a common everyday ingredient that's easy to overlook, but in fact, it's incredibly versatile. In the United States, corn is often enjoyed freshly grilled still on the cob or used to make cornbread. It's also found in less common but still delicious dishes like cool summer soups or cornbread ice cream sandwiches

But the versatility of corn doesn't end there. While the United States is the leading producer of corn by a longshot (via Statistica), corn is found in dishes around the world all with vastly different, but incredibly tasty preparations. In China, restaurants serve a creamy and sweet corn beverage, and in Vietnam people enjoy che bap, a sweet snack made of corn and tapioca balls. 

South America certainly isn't sleeping on corn either (and neither should you). There's a host of dishes to try from the region, but corn lovers from across the globe should really become acquainted with champús, a refreshing Colombian corn-based drink.

Champús, a refreshing Colombian drink

As reported by My Colombian Recipes, champús is a traditional drink enjoyed by many in the Valle region of Colombia. It is made from corn, and a mixture of fruits, usually pineapple and lulo, a popular fruit (also called naranjilla or "little orange" in Spanish) that has a jelly-like texture and small, pale seeds (per Speciality Produce). To make champús, dried corn is soaked overnight and then cooked. Afterward, panela (a type of brown sugar), orange leaves, cloves, cinnamon, and the mashed lulo and pineapple are added to the corn base. Finally, the drink is topped with ice, creating a cool beverage with a tart, but slightly sweet taste that's perfect for hot days (per Open Lab).

Colombians aren't the only ones with a taste for this delicious drink, and variations of champús exist throughout South America. The drink is also served in Ecuador and Peru, though versions can contain other fruits like quince or guanábana (via World Food Guide). Peruvians also enjoy a similar dessert though it is served hot on cold days, per Peru Delights

While corn might have an unassuming reputation — you might think of it as average or even boring — Colombian champús is proof positive that even staple ingredients can be transformed with exciting, new-to-you preparations.