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Love letter to Ohio sweet corn (sort of)

August 25, 2009

Ralph went out Saturday afternoon to pick blueberries and came home with two quarts of raspberries and four dozen ears of corn plus the seven pints of blueberries he went out for. Berries are lovely, and I’m the first to say so, but corn is something else altogether. I love corn. I am a Midwestern girl at heart, and I’ll freely admit that Vermont just can’t grow sweet corn like Ohio can. We used to go down into the Cuyahoga River valley and buy corn from Szalay’s in Peninsula. They’d harvest it onto a big hay wagon and park it next to their farm stand and we’d fill grocery bags of it from the wagon. And go ahead, make all the toxic-river jokes you want to about the Cuyahoga River (which- come on, be fair- has come a long way in the 40 years since it caught fire and simultaneously caught the nation’s attention), but that damn corn was the sweetest I’ve ever had. Some combination of soils, rainfall, alchemy, whatever, made it magical. And it ruined me for anything else.

Except that over the years (thirteen, thirteen!, since I last had Szalay’s corn), well, you forget. Memories fade a bit, your point of reference shifts. And then your hubby brings home four dozen ears of corn in a year when all things have been slow to produce. And well, allegiances shift, I’m sorry. It was pretty damn good corn. I know you buckeyes will forgive me when I say, it may have rivaled Szalay’s.

So ravings aside, hubby shucked a big pile of it on the kitchen floor and we processed it all for freezing. This is a sticky process involving big pots of boiling water, slicing it off the cob while juice splatters the counter, the floor, my shirt, my glasses. It’s almost as messy as the pickled beets we made a couple of weeks ago. But it means that we’ll have sweet corn in January to add color to corn chowder with bacon, to big pots of chili, to pasta. We may do another batch if we get our act together.

In fairness to Ohio and that much-maligned river valley, it still probably wasn’t as good as Szalay’s corn. But this summer, it will do just fine.

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