By Valerie Watson

You've learned quite a bit about barley. Just to keep you well rounded, though, we thought we'd toss you a few questions about some other grains—and the diverse and tasty things made from them. See if you can match the food or beverage with the grain from which it's made:
  1. Grits – Corn. Grits is a Southern staple similar to porridge in consistency. It's made by coarsely grinding dried corn, cooking it in boiling water, and seasoning it with salt, pepper, butter, pork fat, bacon bits, or anything else you care to toss in. Grits can also be made from hominy, which is dried corn that's been soaked in lye-water to remove the hulls. The technical word for this process is "nixtamalization," but my personal word for it is "blecchhy"—when it comes to food, I'd rather leave my hulls in (more fiber!) and my lye out (less corrosion of my digestive tract!), thank you very much.
  2. Sake – Rice. Sake, as most people know, is a Japanese alcoholic beverage, but not everyone knows what it's made from: rice. More akin to beer than wine in its fermentation process, sake generally has a higher alcohol content than either. The production of sake dates back to the 3rd century AD, and sake holds an important place in Japanese history and ritual. According to tradition, one should not pour one's own sake. However, if one is alone, extremely thirsty, and not expecting company for a goodly amount of time, what the rest of us don't know (probably) won't hurt us.
  3. Muesli – Oats. Muesli is a cereal made from toasted rolled oats combined with various types of fruit and nuts. A fairly recent concoction, muesli was developed around 1900 by a Swiss physician, Dr. Maximilian Bircher-Benner, for the patients in his hospital, and it really began taking off in popularity around the 1960s because the healthful nature of its ingredients meshed well with the growing international interest in diet and fitness. Nowadays, muesli is often sweetened with honey or even used as a dessert topping or ice cream mix-ins, which is probably not exactly what the health-minded Dr. Bircher-Benner had in mind, but then again, he probably never tasted it mashed into a scoop of Peanut Butter Banana Fudge Ripple, either.
  4. Couscous – Wheat. Couscous, particularly popular throughout the Mediterranean and the Middle East, is made from semolina wheat pellets steamed until light and fluffy, then served with broth, stew, vegetables, meat, or fish. Couscous is similar in form and function to pasta or rice, but is at least twice as much fun to say. (Don't take my word for it; go on and try it for yourself.)
  5. Pumpernickel bread – Rye. Pumpernickel is a dark, heavy bread made either from coarsely ground rye, or from finer rye flour with whole rye berries. Traditional German pumpernickel is characterized by its long, slow baking time; its rich, dark color; and its somewhat sweet flavor, all achieved without later Americanizations like sweetening with molasses, coloring with coffee or cocoa, and/or leavening with yeast. In a delightful example of culinary split personality, pumpernickel is often paired with upscale treats like caviar and smoked fish, even though its name derives from the German words for "to break wind" and "goblin"—it's the rude little creature-emission that made good!