September 20, 2011 § 14 Comments
When I think of the rolling golden hills around Palo Alto, I think of broccoli salad. Not estates complete with horses, not perfectly tanned and perfectly fit weekend riders stopping for a cappuccino while their carbon fiber bikes rest along the decorative fencing enclosing the cafe patio, not the vast expanse of ocean just off to the west. Nope, I think of broccoli salad. The heavy mayonnaise-loaded kind with bacon, cheddar and raisins. The kind that really belongs at a church potluck in the midwest.
It’s because of the darn way I have a near full-on emotional break-down if I get overly hungry or overly tired. And you don’t want to see what happens when I’m both. It’s not pretty.
Last summer when we were in California for a friend’s wedding, I had, shall we say, a little more trouble adjusting to the three hour time difference than anticipated. The fact that on the day I arrived in the Bay Area, I had gotten up at 4am Eastern Standard Time to catch my flight, didn’t actually make it to San Francisco until 14 hours later because of delays along the way, and then didn’t get supper until nearly 10pm West Coast time (which my body still strongly believed was 1am, and took great pains to remind me of this) somehow didn’t set me up for an auspicious start to the weekend.
August 27, 2010 § 6 Comments
I’m trying to think of similes for sweet corn, and oddly, I keep coming up with sort of scary violent images – the ticking time bomb, the radioactively decaying, the unstable isotope of the food world. Which is funny because, in my experience at least, sweet corn is a pretty peaceable non-intimidating substance, except maybe for its annoying habit of leaving bits of skin wedged so firmly between your teeth you pull a muscle in your tongue trying to dislodge it (floss is for sissies). But, the thing with corn is, the moment you pick it, the sugars in its kernel begin converting to starches instead. Like a lollipop gradually shape-shifting into a raw potato. And very few people want to suck on a raw potato. So, eating sweet corn pits you in a race against time. Can you buy it and eat it close enough to the time it was picked to ensure that perfect, transcendent experience of munching summer, right off the cob? (As Garrison Keilor has said, “sex is good, but not as good as fresh sweet corn.”)
When you buy farmer’s market corn during peak season, it would be a shame to doctor it more than lightly boiling or grilling it and adding a bit of butter and salt (and in case you’re looking, the very best sample of this in the whole world is the corn on the cob at the Minnesota State Fair, though I hear the title is being challenged by elotes, the street corn in Mexico. However, this has a squirt of lime, red chile sauce, and some crumbled cheese on it, which is obviously sacrilege, or at least kind of cheating, because even a cardboard tube would taste good with those things on it, and we’re trying to highlight the corn here, right?)
Of course if, say, you pick up your load of newly picked sweet corn and then promptly up and leave for 10 days, off to somewhere on the entirely opposite side of the country, when you come back you may find your corn more than a little in need of a pick me up. At least, ours was. I feel like corn has sort of three ages and stages of cooking potential (not counting garbage/compost pile). First is the corn on the cob stage. That one’s easy. A couple days past this, when the corn kernels are still pretty sweet but losing a little of their plump juiciness it enters the stage of “cut off the cob and add to something like a salad or pasta, incorporate into the batter of fritters, flapjacks, or corn bread, or (my personal favorite) sautee with other summer vegetables (like summer squash, tomatoes, beans) and herbs”. Stage three, when the kernels have gone a bit mealy, is soup.