In New England, we measure the seasons by the crops, and this is one of the best!
When Corn Season is upon us, I hunter-gather at all the farm stands near home and buy a couple of ears from each. Then I cook them and taste. Most years, there is a standout favorite! We might be tempted to pick the largest ears, but often that is not where the best flavor is usually found. At the beginning of the season, first corn is usually disappointing. But this year, from the first bite, it was Corn Heaven! Corn at the beginning of September is usually really sweet, but as the season wears on, it can become starchy. Farmers often grow more than one variety as well, so you just have to taste, and taste again.
Our first corn meal will most likely be simple – thrown on the grill, husks and all, no soaking. Once done and the outsides nicely singed, before letting them cool, impatiently we peel back the husks to use as a handle, add a little butter and munch away, napkins at hand. That first corn meal includes nothing but corn, and we couldn’t be happier.
Roasted, grilled, steamed, or boiled, corn is a summer staple, and has been on this continent in one form or another for thousands of years. It grows remarkably well in the northeast, whereas grains such as wheat, do not, so corn’s versatility became a staple ingredient in the region’s cuisine.
For several months, we’ll use these golden nuggets in dozens of ways: fresh corn salad, corn muffins, New England spider cake, corn pudding, dips and salsas, succotash (my husband’s favorite), corn fritters, Johnny cakes, and, of course, corn chowder!