Gascony's love affair with corn dates back to the 15th century, when it was introduced from the New World by Christopher Columbus and his Basque crew shortly after their return to Spain. Corn thrived in a narrow belt along the 45th parallel, which bisects the heart of southwestern France. Old Gascon recipes still rely on cornmeal for desserts like millassou, which is baked and topped with sugar or honey; and for cruchade, a starchy, savory underpinning for duck or other meats. The polenta-like porridge is often enriched with caramelized fat drippings from making confit. Left to cool completely, cruchade can be cut into thick strips for frying, but since I'm an impatient cook, I ladle a soft, golden pudding-like version onto a serving platter and garnish with fritons, crisped bits of duck skin.