As it turns out this is actually something called "corn smut" aka "mexican truffle"... a delicacy south of the border (sometimes sold at a higher price than actual healthy corn) and sought after by many a daring gringo chef. wow!
mad smut recipes: http://www.sweetcorn.illinois.edu/Common-smut/Recipes.htm
Is this what they use for huitlacoche? (delicious corn fungus)