Tuesday, July 14, 2015
Did you ever drive across the country on I-80 in the summer? I have, a few times. And from our house in northeastern Ohio to, oh, western Nebraska it's pretty much one giant cornfield. In the recent film Tomorrowland, the earth's crops are failing all over the place. But not corn--not yet, anyway.
Corn-on-the-cob was one of the reasons I loved summer as a boy--but not the main reason, of course. Every kid knows the main reason for summer-love is that school is out! During the year we ate corn with many meals--but canned. Or, later, frozen. There's no comparison, though, with corn-on-the-cob.
From the time we moved to Hiram, Ohio, in the summer of 1956 (I would turn twelve that fall), Dad would buy piles of ears each summer from the stands that farmers all over the area had placed out by the road. We ate it pretty much every night.
Which caused a small bit of domestic tension.
Dad, you see, was a ferocious eater of corn-on-the-cob. He attacked each one, teeth flashing, and did not come up for air until all the yellow was gone. And did I mention that he had first swabbed the cob with real butter (the kind from a cow) and used enough salt to ensure traction in our driveway for a long winter?
By the time he finished, his lips were flecked with corn-corpses--as was the front of his shirt. (In later years, when he couldn't really prevent it, Mom would put a bib on him.)
And did I say how noisy he was? My older brother, Richard, declared Dad sounded like a cow walking through a swamp. I thought about chainsaws and wood-chippers.
The noise also annoyed Mom--perhaps more than the yellow flecks on his face and shirt. But it's a close call, which she found more annoying. I'm pretty sure that as she daintily ate her own ear, she was hoping for a bad harvest.
Years passed. I got married. And discovered that one of the principal differences between Joyce and me is corn-eating.
I'm typewriter-regular about it. Right down the row to the end. Then return, start another row. I try not to eat the entire ear without laying it down to sample some other bounty. But sometimes I just can't help myself. (You know guys.)
When health (and aging) concerns began to emerge, I eschewed salt, then butter. I eat the ears plain now. We also steam rather than boil them.
But Joyce is a very different corn-critter. Her eating I can only describe as random. She picks up the ear, looks at it, dives in at a spot that has nothing to do with routine or even common sense. I guess I'd call it creative, which, of course, she is. She never eats it all-at-once. And when it's through, I'm often tempted to pick it up and finish it off. (There are little corn islands on her cob that need to be conquered.) But I don't. I've matured.
We also have some "issues" about who shucks the corn--and where. But let's not get into that.
I mention all of this because we went to a local farmer's market the other day--Szalay's (see image)--where we got our first corn of the season. We've had it the past two nights. (See above for how.)
I also called my mom, 95, yesterday, told her about our corn purchase, and reminded her of Dad's fondness for it. She needed no reminding. But when I told her I remembered the yellow remains on his lips and shirt, she laughed--very very hard.