One of my very first food memories is the taste of raw, sweet, corn on the cob.
It is a rather rebellious flavor to me. Mostly because of the way in which the sweet corn was acquired but also because I didn’t eat it cooked- I ate it raw, the “wrong” way.
When I was about five and my brother and neighbor were seven, we stole several cobs of corn right out of our neighbor’s backyard.
We had to wade through fields of three-foot tall, tickly grass and climb over two fences to reach the corn field. Once we ripped off the cobs, we ran back through the field to our secret fort, a little hollowed out area under a canopy of leaves in a giant bush in my parent’s front yard. At the time, it seemed that we knew what we were doing with a small, 4-cup red saucepan, half full of water and a book of matches. Obviously, it made sense to light a fire and attempt to boil water, all under a canopy of leaves in the summer. Thankfully, none of the matches would light, which led us to try the corn raw. We were breaking the rules, of course, by attempting to light a fire without an adult present, but even more rebellious to me was peeling back the stalks right there, letting the corn silk fall on our bare summer legs and taking a bite of corn that wasn’t even cooked! The starchy, sweet kernels popped unfamiliarly in my mouth and left me a changed girl.
After my raw corn experience, I even tried to convince my mother that it was the only way I was ever going to eat corn on the cob again. At my request, I vividly recall one dinner where she gladly set a pale yellow, uncooked, corncob onto my plate, probably thinking it would be the last raw corn I would eat. And not to her surprise, it was. Who knows why my devotion to raw corn on the cob wavered? It’s likely due to the fact that I was treated to sweet corn cooked in a multitude of ways throughout my childhood and my preferences continued to evolve.
Now my tastes for sweet corn are far from rebellious, but just as innocent: sweet corn, in season, hot off the barbecue and slathered in melted butter with sea salt. While the thought of eating raw corn isn’t as exciting as it once was, I do have to nibble on a raw corn kernel now and then, before the cobs hit the grill, simply for sweet nostalgia.