Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Popped Baby Corn

I think I am starting to develop a slight nervousness about corn.

As if the movie "Signs" wasn't enough (which it wasn't, because I didn't see it, but anything about aliens rustling around in corn fields can't help but create a general predisposition to corn-related uneasiness), I finally started reading The Omnivore's Dilemma, the first quarter of which is a deftly-written investigation of how and why an unbelievably large proportion of the calories we consume on a daily basis come from corn. Only the way Pollan writes it conveys quite clearly that it's not so much a story of humanity conquering corn as it is a tale of corn conquering us. Our country, our food chain, and ultimately our bodies have pretty much been colonized by corn. It's slightly unnerving. Still, I managed to hold it together until this morning in the shower, when for some unknown reason no doubt directly related to my as yet uncaffeinated state, I found myself reading the back of my bottle of shampoo. (I know, there are about a thousand more reasonable things I could have been doing with my time, like putting the shampoo on my head, but I tend to move very slowly in the mornings and get overly transfixed by things that are directly in my field of vision, which this was.)

Anyway, here's the thing: There is corn in my shampoo. Or more accurately, there are various processed permutations of corn in my shampoo, and I strongly suspect they are there not because they actually help clean my hair in any way, but because of this crazy system of corn overproduction we've developed that seems to be bad for just about everyone but the corn. And the huge corporations processing it and channeling it into our food and drinks and, apparently, shampoo.

In the face of this increasingly unsettling sense of an invisible and encroaching tide of processed corn everyone around us, I am trying very hard to remember that processed, industrial corn is very different than local, whole corn, a point helpfully underscored by the locally-grown, dried, and poppable (!) baby corn that recently appeared in our CSA box.

After shucking it, we stuck it (one earlette at a time) in a brown paper bag, placed it (vertically) in the microwave, and zapped for 2-4 minutes until the popping stopped. At first, we thought it hadn't worked, because the corn stayed on the cob...but then we bit into it, gingerly at first, and then gleefully. It was amazing. Turns out you can eat both the popped and the unpopped, toasted kernels. (The toasted ones tasted like corn nuts, only way, way better. We rubbed it with just a little pastured butter and sprinkled with salt and pepper.)

So corn, if you're out there listening (no ear puns, please), here's the deal: as a general rule, I refuse to consume you as 40% of my daily calories. But for popped baby corn on the cob, I would make a blissfully reverent exception.

1 comment:

  1. Shocking, isn't it? I was so disturbed after reading OD. I knew there was a reason I never liked cereal! Dog food for people, I always said. Supposedly nutritious but so unnatural. Now we know corn was behind that too. Oh diabolical will read on and discover all of its evils...