Cornmeal is a meal (coarse flour) ground from dried maize (corn). It is a common staple food, and is ground to fine, medium, and coarse consistencies, but not as fine as wheat flour. In the United States, very finely ground cornmeal is also referred to as corn flour. However, the word cornflour denotes cornstarch in the United Kingdom, where cornmeal is known as polenta and finely ground corn flour (for making bread or tortillas) is known as maize flour.
Steel ground yellow cornmeal, which is common mostly in the United States, has the husk and germ of the maize kernel almost completely removed. It is conserved for about a year if stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.
Stone-ground cornmeal retains some of the hull and germ, lending a little more flavor and nutrition to recipes. It is more perishable, but will store longer if refrigerated. However, it too can have a shelf life of many months if kept in a reasonably cool place.
Blue cornmeal is light blue or violet in color. It is ground from whole blue corn and has a sweet flavor. The cornmeal consists of dried corn kernels that have been ground into a fine or medium texture.
Southern Africa's Nshima cornmeal (top right corner), served with three relishes.
Wo tou (窩頭 nest head) - Shaped like a hollow cone, this cornbread looks like a bird's nest, after which it is named. It is commonly eaten in northern China, and may contain dried jujubes and other flavoring agents.
Tie Bing (貼餅 sticking bread) - This product can either be fluffy like a mantou or more flatbread-like. It is traditionally stuck around the outer rim of a large wok while meat or fish is being cooked. Generally, an alkalizing agent such as baking soda is added to increase the nutrient value. It is also found in northern China.
Corn congee (棒子麵粥) - A porridge made from plain cornmeal. It is normally thinner than grits or polenta and is often eaten with Chinese pickles.
Mesoamerica and South America
Grindstones inside Mingus Mill, in the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina. Corn is placed in a hopper (top right) which slowly feeds it into the grindstone (center). The grindstone grinds the corn into cornmeal, and empties it into a bucket (lower left). The grindstones are turned by the mill's water-powered turbine.