Employing cream cheese as a thickener is a surprising use of a familiar taste. People always smile when they figure out that the secret ingredient is something they have eaten and enjoyed their whole lives.

Using the well-known and fondly remembered is a great strategy for creating recipes that people are predisposed to like. It’s a door that opens out onto the pleasure in other less familiar ingredients and combinations.

I was introduced to this use of cream cheese in my early days on the barbecue circuit. I always made it a point to stop in at every barbecue place wherever I went, and that was how I came upon a restaurant named Jack Stack in Kansas City, with superfriendly people and equally super creamed corn.

“I love it,” I said, “creamy and tangy . . . ? Hmm, I know what it is, but I can’t place it.”

“Philly cream cheese,” they answered.

Cream cheese, just like what we had with bagels and lox on Sundays at home on Long Island. I think I may have been the only person in that part of KC who had regularly—or ever—eaten bagels and lox. I was connected to that recipe in a nostalgic way.

As for the combination of chiles and corn: they are both Native American foods, as is barbecued meat.