Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Pass the Butter!

October is winding down, and most of the autumn colours are dropping from branches and are ending up in sodden piles on sidewalks and road gutters. I can show you some pictures of those if you like, because for reasons that Dan could not understand I was taking pictures of those composting piles on Sunday.

But you probably aren't interested in that.

Instead, how about I discuss corn. That is so much more interesting, don't you think?

Now a few weeks ago when I was in throws of mentally trying to prove that I was not physically ailing, I went on a really ambitious walk through some glorious countryside. You probably would think that I might have enjoyed the walk more if it hadn't hurt to breathe, but that's not really a correct assessment. You see, because it hurt to inhale through my nose that meant I had to take quite a few breaks for obvious reasons: namely, no one wants a mouth-breather creeping up behind them on a walk through quiet country afternoons. 

Talk about Act 1, Scene 1, straight out of a horror movie.

(I was the mouth-breather, in case you're not getting that.)

So as I was stopped on one occasion, waiting for a group of attractive male joggers to get ahead of me, I turned to face the cornfield so I could spare them the horror of looking at me in all my germy splendor. Of course I still looked like a complete nutter. Oh look, that girl is standing meerkat-still in the middle of a long country road, staring at corn.

Freak.

So I grabbed my camera and took some pictures of the corn so I looked semi-normal.

Oh look, that girl is standing meerkat-still in the middle of a long country road, taking pictures of corn.

Freak.

No, there is no way around it. That wasn't a good day. I actually didn't enjoy that walk, I am done pretending. It took too long to get home, I forgot to pack Kleenex, and all I have to show for it are some pictures of corn.

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Hiya! I'm corn!
But not the good kind you can eat.

There's something you need to know about corn in Switzerland: they're doing it wrong. That is probably the rudest thing I have EVER said (yeah, it's not), but it's the truth. All of the corn fields that are around where I live grow crops that are harvested for livestock feed.

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Past their prime.

That means the plants--cobs and all--are left sitting on the field to dry out before a big farm vehicle-tractor-thresher-thing comes along and plows the whole field down in one fell-swoop, while the resulting silage--greens and grains alike--is pumped into the wagon trailing behind.

I mean sure, it is a good thing that all the barnyard creatures get such nutritious food

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Hands off, I am NOT for you.
Plus at this stage of my life I'm as dried out as Joan Rivers' face without the injections.

But what about me? Back home, great big bins start showing up in the grocery stores around September that are loaded with fresh ears of local sweet corn. Then I would fight the crowd of other corn-on-the-cob-enthusiasts to peel back the green husks and check if the kernels hidden beneath were the desired butter yellow; if so, in my basket those ears went and dinner plans were solidified.

Last year I kept waiting, and waiting, and waiting for the big bins of corn to show up in the Migros. They never did. Instead there are only these packages of cellophane wrapped ears of corn available that have all the silk and most of the husk stripped away. In my opinion these are tasteless, and I can't grill with them. How am I supposed to slap flavoured butter all over the cob when I can't cover it all back up with the soaked husk? This means I can't let them hang out on a low grill heat, steaming and marinating and charring until they are a sweet perfection; the husk is mandatory!

Dan's mom told me that when she was growing up here, corn was strictly 'animal food' and it was a laughable notion when other people in the world ate it. Probably like how people in Peru laugh at the idea that everyone else in the world keeps guinea pigs in cages, fattening them up for life, and then never eat the succulent little rodents. Basically, everyone all over the world thinks everyone else has weird diets. Deal with it.

But slowly the concept of corn as human food has crept into the Swiss diet, and here's where they're doing it wrong: they eat it in salad. And not like a corn salad, it's a regular green salad that has corn on it. Weird! And once I ate a vegetable baguette, and corn was mixed into the fresh cheese. Weird! And another time, I ordered a pizza and there was corn on it. Weird! But never, ever, ever has freshly picked ears of corn--still bundled like babies in their silky husks--shown up in my Migros or Coop.

I miss it so.

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I taunt you with my perfection.

I mean, how else are we supposed to justify eating an entire pound of melted butter if we don't have our barbequed ear of fresh corn to act as our sponge?

How else, I ask you?

1 comment:

mom said...

Nice pictures Cait. Ohhh, the butter, slathered on just about anything, justifies it :-)