A Labor Day Ode to an Ear of Corn
Corn must be a generational thing. I say this because kids don’t seem to tuck into an ear of corn with the same zest that I do. It is a taste from childhood, from a different age.
Of course, we are all to blame for tolerating contemporary year-round corn with the taste and consistency of those packing chips in shipping boxes.
I am talking about real corn, recently picked, grown for taste. We were in upstate New York recently, and my wife bought a dozen ears from a farm stand (12 for $3, leave the money in the plastic box) and the next day it still tasted fresh.
The terrible drought in the Midwest has not affected the corn upstate; the only good news from Hurricane Isaac is that there may be some relief for the back end of the Midwest corn crop.
I can get downright Proustian (in emotion, if not writing style) about the memories of fresh corn -- Á la Recherche du Mais Perdu, as Proust might have titled it, boiled corn, doused in butter and salt, the way my mother served it.
We did not have much money – sometimes did not have a car – and my father worked weekends and holidays. So my mom would make a picnic for five kids and we would walk up the glacial hill to Cunningham Park and she would start a fire and prepare a dozen ears of corn, maybe two dozen. I think my kid brother has the dented pot we used.
My wife, after her 13 or 14 trips to India, turns the corn over a flame, daubs it with one spice or another, in homage to picnics with friends in the hills of Pune.
Either way, I get downright sentimental.
In its Labor Day editorial, the Times mentions sweet corn as a rite of the end of summer, like taking kids to college or watching the Open tennis.
The writer must be of a certain age (by definition, editorial writers would tend to be.) Somebody younger might rave about holiday treats somewhat more chi-chi. Corn still makes me happy.
9/3/2012 04:36:56 am
No wonder I love corn on the cob so much - but hate the creamed stuff! Don't remember walking to Cunningham as a family, or cooking out there, but that's a memory I'm glad you shared - as the elder brother. Happy Labor Day! Jane
9/3/2012 05:36:54 am
Jane, you were undoubtedly a babe in arms. Happy holiday. George
9/3/2012 11:32:16 am
9/3/2012 12:36:31 pm
WHO in your family roasts farm fresh corn, George? Put them up for adoption! Proper farm corn is dipped in hot water just long enough to be warmed to perfection!
9/4/2012 02:27:32 am
sure, boiled corn is great -- I don't even care about butter or salt.
9/4/2012 05:44:15 am
Can you share the recipe?
Ed from Corona
9/5/2012 03:37:14 am
So good. Been eating flame cooked corn off the stove top for years since my wife hails from Gujarat. Guess it's an Indian thing that's become a Queens thing...By the way, Eggplant on the flame is also worthy of a holiday...hmmm...Diwali?
9/5/2012 05:47:18 am
My wife says:
Charles in Absecon
9/3/2012 07:51:02 pm
I had a farmer's market about 3 miles from me that always had the absolute best locally grown corn.
9/7/2012 12:26:51 am
Recent company recommended rubbing corn with a lemon slice. Very interesting combination.
9/6/2012 03:02:17 pm
9/7/2012 05:06:25 am
Bruce: We always hear about the $100-melon, or was it the $1,000 melon. On the other hand, our friend Akie took us to a noodle shop near Ginza and I had more delicious shrimp and noodles than I could handle for $10 or $12. Go figure.
9/7/2012 02:28:25 pm
sounds so good I will buy some local Quebec corn tomorrow. Eat your heart out Mark Bittman, George is in business!
My Grandpa Peter used to call store corn "cow corn," because it was so bad he wouldn't feed it to cows. He grew corn in the garden behind his restaurant in Beverly, Massachusetts, which was on a highway entrance so had some lawn to fill the contours.
9/8/2012 06:50:57 am
My kid brother lives next to a corn field upstate. I learned on the last visit that the farmer plants cow corn but puts a ring of eating corn around the outside -- and tells neighbors to help themselves. People are nice in the country.
9/12/2012 11:58:40 am
Had ears of sweet corn tonite Vecsey style, on grill, with lime, butter and a pinch of chili. Delicious! I grilled about 20 minutes and they browned a bit, not as much as pictured, but cooked., tender and juicy. My grill may be further from the flames. Peggy and I send thanks to your wife and to you.
9/14/2012 01:35:49 am
With my known inability to cook, I never thought I'd be the conduit for anything culinary. Lately I've been watching my wife create stuff, but I don't think osmosis works.
9/14/2012 05:52:41 am
I took it up a couple of years ago and enjoy it- an old dog who likes food learned a new trick. we take turns now, one cooks, the other cleans up. Who can tell George, it may be a second career, writing a blog as "the sports minimalist". Possibly replacing the Times' Mark Bittman.
9/16/2012 04:56:01 am
9/16/2012 07:55:31 am
I am in awe of people who cook. Our son can cook; so can our son-in-law. I wash dishes and run to the pantry downstairs. To each, according to his ability...
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“I don’t think people understand how Covid affects older Americans,” Mr. Caretti said with frustration. “In 2020, there was this all-in-this-together vibe, and it’s been annihilated. People just need to care about other people, man. That’s my soapbox.”
---Vic Caretti, 47, whose father recently died of Covid at 85.
---From an article by Paula Span, who covers old age for the NYT, which currently has 2646 comments, the majority criticizing the American public – and public officials – for acting as if the pandemic is “over.”
Classic wishful thinking, at a lethal level.