It varies by region. Up north, they like it sweet and might as well call it corn-cake. Out west, there's usually pieces of corn and/or jalapenos adorning it. But here in the South, man oh man, it's a perfect as they come.
Cornbread used to be no-big-thing in my life. Then I married a man who can't eat wheat. Aside from the obvious no-no's in our diet, it also ruled out the majority of cornbread recipes - which are largely laden with wheat. I rummaged around the internet and found a 'plain jane cornbread' recipe. But it was just that. Decent, not too dry or crumbly, but nothing to write home about, AND it tended to grow mold very quickly (I think that's an untold property of GF foods - they either dry out altogether or grow things).
And then one marvelous day, my 'other mother' gave me her cornbread recipe. My life was changed. Forever.
This recipe ought to be written in gold. And it's so easy, even if you just throw things in the bowl and never measure a bit and think it's going to be a disastrous chemistry experiment (blame it on unknown quantities of baking soda and baking powder)....it might surprise you and still be lovely.
2 cups cornmeal (not 'cornbread mix')
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1.5 tsp salt
2 cups buttermilk
2 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup of oil
Mix all. Pour into a greased 13x9. Bake at 425 for 35 minutes.
I think you should use REAL buttermilk. Don't try to substitute with a little vinegar + milk, it's just not the same. You should use butter too for your oil. In fact that's the only thing I would change, instead doing the 1/3 cup (of melted butter), go ahead and melt the whole stick and bake it right in there. Trust me. But, you might want to only go that route if you intend to eat the whole pan while it's still hot and fresh (and you should). If you plan to have leftovers, use the regular amount of oil/butter. Emery and I found that we very much wanted to eat the entire pan full, but were too stuffed to do so.
This recipe also halves beautifully, and if you're going to halve it, go for the gold and use the extra butter, because then you CAN eat it all in one evening.