Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Sweetest Ear

It's almost State Fair season. That means we're nearing the end of sweet corn season. We're a little smug about our sweet corn here in the midwest. Is Ohio's better than Michigan's? Iowa's better than Illinois? It's all good, especially the "I" states. Florida grows some great produce, as does Texas, but their sweet corn just doesn't even compare. (The stuff they call sweet corn in Texas would be fed to cows here... if the cows were starving.)

Sweet corn will be eaten here at the Villa at least 2-3 times a week when it's in season. It should be eaten as soon as possible; the sugar starts disintegrating (or whatever the word is) as soon as the corn is picked.

When I lived in Iowa, I was invited to a client's house for dinner. As expected, the table was groaning with goodies from their own garden: tomatoes, cucumbers, sugar snap peas, sweet peppers, summer squash. The wife asked me if I'd ever had fresh sweet corn. "Of course! I'm from Indiana," I said, somewhat indignantly. "No," she said, "I mean really fresh." She said to her husband, "I think we're ready." To my surprise, he ran out the door. We watched from the window as he went to the back of the garden, picked three ears of corn, and shucked it as he ran back. His wife lifted the lid on a pot of already-boiling water and he dropped the corn in. It was less than a minute from picking to boiling.

I think it only boiled for a couple of minutes when she fished them out and put them on a platter. "Now, this is fresh corn. I think you'll be able to tell the difference." Tender, juicy, delicately flavored...corn? I thought it was candy!

I still buy and enjoy sweet corn, but that ear stands out in my memory as what real fresh corn is supposed to taste like.


Kathy from NJ said...

I believe the sugar turns to starch.

Your story reminds me of a trip to my father's Aunt Dorothy & Uncle Cliff's house in CT, probably in the mid '50's. They had a farm and Uncle Cliff would never pick the corn until the water was boiling. And Aunt Dorothy would never allow the trash to be taken out after dinner until all the silver was washed, counted and put away.

We loved staying there because they had a GUEST HOUSE! - later in life I learned that the guest house was the no longer used chicken coop.

We would also visit Aunt Peggy & Uncle Elmer - they had a house that you walked DOWN stairs to enter; they also had a guest house. Yes, their guest house was also a former chicken coop, and one walked down stairs to get in the house because when they were building their house they ran out of money after the basement was finished. So they slapped a roof on the basement and called it done.

Thanks for the memories.

tim's wife said...

La Coot, You made my mouth water for that corn and Kathy, that story is a pip and sounds straight out of Mayberry. How come life is so darn complicated now. Give me back the simple life out in the country somewhere. If I could just find a place,I can be packed in 30 minutes. Not too many people grow much around here. There are no woods for the varmints so they eat up gardens at an alarming rate. I have eaten string beans freshly picked though(yummy) and eating a fresh potato has forever ruined me for these year old spuds we buy in the store. Maybe next year, I'll get out the chicken wire and try it again. I'm sure the rabbits and chipmunks will appreciate my efforts.

La Cootina said...

Isn't it great having relatives who live on farms? I don't know if I'd want to live there, but I'd sure enjoy visiting...

TW - I feel your pain. I only have a couple of scrawny tomato plants, but if I don't pick 'em green, the critters will beat me to them.