The Early Bird Gets the Worm
“Watch out for the worms,” MTM called from his session of sanding the piazza floors yesterday. Yes, he abandoned me to the wilds of the kitchen. I was charged with preparing our first Farmers’ Market ears of summer corn for the grill, the vendor’s admonition still ringing in my ears…….”Let me give you an extra ear, because I know one of them will have a worm clinging to it.”
Yuck. Ick. Puke. Nasty. That’s the kind of fiber I’m not interested in consuming, even if it is grilled until it is dead dead dead.
My Mom used to usher in our summers with bushels of corn. Our annual pilgrimage to Mr. Alt’s farm (now a tacky driving range) was an EVENT – all capitals and all-out awesome. I remember driving up the dusty dirt road between what seemed like endless fields of undulating corn. Mr. Alt always had Mom’s ears ready in a big plastic bag. She drove that humid bag full of summertime home, and we sweated and shucked, sweated and shucked those juicy kernels of deliciousness, sometimes on the carport and sometimes in the middle of our living room floor.
Mom is a better woman than me. When she found a fat, happy worm, she held it up to me and squealed, “EEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!” before taking it out and throwing it in the garbage. I stuck my virgin hands in that plastic, praying I didn’t find a disgusting worm creature groping around the tips of my fingers. The whole experience of touching something that felt EXACTLY THE SAME as the corn kernels would’ve ruined the juicy succulence of an ear for me.
Summer always meant staying up until dawn with my Mom, monitoring the pressure cooker as she “put up” that corn for us to enjoy for the coming months. To me, nothing tasted as good as gobbling a butter-encrusted ear at 3AM, burning my fingers on the hot, buttery mess. If I could go to bed without brushing the hairs out of my teeth, that was even better.
I waited all year for that singular pleasure.
What food says ‘summer’ to you?