There’s a saying in Mexico: sin maíz, no hay país. It means without corn, there is no country.

This isn’t really an overstatement — corn has been domesticated in Mexico since at least 2,500 B.C., and it’s still the most important ingredient in the Mexican diet. Corn is used in everything from tortillas to soups and beverages, and the husks (and occasionally fresh corn leaves, when in season) are used to wrap tamales. I’ve even had charred cornsilk in certain types of atole.

Mexico is connected to corn in a way that I can’t fathom as an American who grew up in California. But living in Mexico for four years, I developed a deep appreciation for corn and its history, and its array of colors and textures. Taking pictures of Mexican corn seemed like a natural thing, in my eyes. How else do you capture a thing of beauty?

Here’s a small selection of corn photos from my archives. Feel free to share your favorite corn dish in the comments!