Sunday, August 24, 2008

Sweet summer

Having retired my equine-related rants for the moment, it is time to move on to the king of summer crops: Sweet corn.

Is it like this with your family? Most of our best summer meals as the years raced by us included sweet corn. These outdoor tables of ours were all over: Charlestown and Newport, Rhode Island. Falmouth and Boston, Massachussetts. Charleston, South Carolina. When we were children, we would sit together for dinner on a picnic table on the front lawn of the summer cottage and eat shellfish or steak and sweet corn. There, on those fair summer evenings in Rhode Island is where I first came to adore farm stands, sweet corn, roadside ice cream joints, and drive-in movie theaters. There was so much joy in those days, maybe because all of the things I have just mentioned to you are without complication and our time there was full of those carefree and blissful landmarks of a child's, and a cook's, memory. And they still have to do with a feeling that transcends childhood: Purity. Easy ice cream and corn filled days. They go by too fast and are difficult to reclaim. As a generation changes hands though, it is time to strip away, if only momentarily, the complexity life can bring. For me, there is nothing like the taste of sweet corn in high summer to remind you to ease up on the acceclerator in my soul.

Now is as good a time as any to begin the road back there for my children. Before we go though, I should admit a failure on my part: As I learned to cook and years took me past those days at the Whetton Cottage, I have become increasingly adept at complicating things than need no muddling, including sweet corn. I do have to pass along a recipe for this grilled corn I love, but I will do it tomorrow or so. Today, I will just tell you how to make sweet corn the way I first came to love it, a thousand years ago, on a front lawn in Charleston, Rhode Island. I hope this takes you back too.

Sweet Corn, Unadulterated

Buy two or three ears of corn per person, depending on the size of the relevant appetites. Remove (shuck) the husks and silk entirely from the ears. Wrap each ear in tin foil and place on a the grill over medium heat. Cook twenty minutes, remove a kernel with a knife and taste to be sure it has softened. Once cooked, remove to a platter or basket and serve in foil, as is. You guests may like salted butter as an accompaniment. But not me, no sir.

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