Tis the season. Yes, corn on the cob is a mandatory food for the upcoming holiday cookouts on Memorial Day, July 4th, Labor Day, and any summertime occasion. I will always remember a boyhood festivity in midsummer, the peak of sweet corn season, when the nearby cow pasture was cleared of debris, a concrete block fire pit was set up and on a Saturday afternoon carloads of neighbors, friends and family began arriving. They parked in the cow pasture and congregated in clusters chatting about crops, new babies, and miscellaneous gossip. Bushels of freshly picked corn, unshucked, were roasting under wet burlap bags on the blazing wood fire. I don’t remember what was being celebrated, but it was a glorious Saturday afternoon and evening. Many bushels of delicious corn were consumed. My aunt and I always had a competition going on. Her capacity was a dozen ears, mine was not quite as many.
Back in those days, one always needed to be on the lookout for that wiggly, slimy worm eating its way through your ear of corn. Today’s pesticides, which have virtually eradicated ear corn surprises, were not available.
My local grocery store has an impressive display of fresh corn in its produce department and on a table at the store entrance. I have learned to bring it home, leave it in its husk, wet it and microwave a few ears for ten minutes. It’s almost as good as that boyhood corn which I remember and savor.
The ear of corn is a product of evolution and of God’s genius in design. The husk is there for a reason. It keeps freshness in and prevents bugs from infesting. That natural packaging serves a purpose. Human fingers and germs are not purposed to touch those kernels until ready to process or eat.
So you can imagine my horror upon approaching a tidy display of freshness to see a sweet, little ole granny standing there pulling back the husks to inspect the merchandise. One by one she carefully strips the tip of its husk and silk, holds it up to her nose to smell and upon rejecting the product throws it back in the bin for the next customer. Especially in this era of virus and disease, that granny has just reduced my choices when it’s my turn to select. I will not pick an ear that has its protective husk compromised.
I observed this behavior several times and finally could no longer grin and bear it. In a moment of grocery store bravery, (she could have been packing more in her purse than keys and wallet) I softly and civilly educated her regarding ‘buying corn’ etiquette. I nicely explained to her that in today’s farming culture, worms and other pests are virtually eliminated. And to ensure that her selection is a delicious, mature ear of corn, she only needs to feel to the tip for fullness. Furthermore, I explained to her that when she stripped back its protective husk, she was ruining that ear for the next customer (who happened to be me). The store produce manager would need to dispose of it when it dried out thus increasing the operational costs of the store resulting in higher prices to all of us.
That sweet little granny looked me in the eye, told me to mind my own effing business and shove the corn she was holding up a place on my anatomy where ‘the sun don’t shine’.
Of course, being the gentleman that I am, I responded, “Yes, maam.” But truly, that is not a pretty picture.
Like I said before, “Tis the season.”