Saturday, July 20, 2013

King Corn

Just a little while ago, Josh and Treat were shucking corn on the front porch. The coals were almost ready for the ribs and burgers when they delivered their handiwork to the kitchen and I crossed my fingers that it would be good corn, tender and sweet.

In my mind, few things go together as well as corn and summer. I remember when eating a whole ear was too hard and all I wanted was for my mom to cut the kernels off. Then I lost my front teeth and I had to eat it that way, and I couldn't wait to get back to the cob.

I remember how cleanly both my mom and my best friend, Nicci, were able to eat their corn off the cob. There was not a single ragged bit of kernel left on their ears. It was like they had a corn vacuum or something.

I remember when my brother lost his tooth while eating corn. We watched in fascination as my mom plucked it from the bloody cob like an errant kernel injured in battle. Then, a few days later, it happened again.

I remember the first summer visit we made to Heidi's family. One of the big events they had planned was a trip to the Eden Corn Festival. A county or two south of them, this event was like a fair or a carnival; it had rides and games and plenty of concessions, but their tradition was to eat corn, and only corn, for dinner.

I was very skeptical of their plan as we approached the corn tent. Volunteers sliced open big burlap bags full of local ears waiting to be shucked. Huge propane fired steam kettles simmered in the back, and the only thing on the menu was corn. "How many should we start with?" Heidi's dad asked, "Two or three?"

He meant dozen, of course, and although the six of us started with two, we easily polished off three and made a good sized dent in the fourth. That corn was probably the best I have ever had-- doused in salt and butter, each sweet kernel practically melted in my mouth, and I learned that night that corn can indeed make a mighty fine meal.

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