Corn gets a bad rap these days and for good reason. There's the whole GMO thing, leading to corn that can tolerate an ever-increasing amount of pesticides and fertilizers (which are bad for you). Then there is the part where it gets turned into high fructose corn syrup leading to a never-ending supply of cheap sugar (also bad for you). And finally, it's a carbohydrate and those have fallen out of favor in recent years in some circles. Poor corn.
Nevertheless, some varieties of corn have redeeming qualities. In particular I'm talking about sweet corn, and it just so happens to be in season. Sweet corn has several important differences that distinguish it from its bastard cousin, GMO corn. Sweet corn is open pollenated and usually grown by small, independent farmers. It's not a commodity crop. No one is getting subsidies for this stuff. Farmers can save their seed for next year if they want, an act that has become alarmingly rare these days.
See also: In Photos: The Elotes of Dallas
Another difference is it actually has a taste, and it is a good one. Sweet corn is sweet (obviously), usually with small kernels that pack a big crunch. Some varieties are bi-colored, while others are yellow or white. This week I bought something that looks like an overgrown berry, but is really red corn for popping on the cob, aka popcorn.
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Often the sweet corn you'll find at the farmers market or local grocery stores will contain silk worms or have been munched on by insects. If this bothers you, get over it. Seriously. If you prefer the pristine, plastic looking corn you normally find at the grocery store, perhaps you should give it a second thought. If a tiny worm with its worm brain passed on seemingly delicious corn cob filled with tiny yellow sugar pillows, then maybe you should too. So if you see a partially gnawed corn cob at the market, be excited that it didn't kill every bug that touched it and take it home with you. Cut off the part you don't want, love it for the special corn that it is, and then eat it.
A few thoughts on how to eat it:
- Make elotes. This is a no brainer.
- In a salad, with goat cheese, avocado, cilantro, and lime.
- Put it on a pizza. You heard me. Don't think, just do.
- Make black bean and corn salsa. Eat with corn chips. (Corn party!)
- Regular old corn on the cob.
That last option would go well with your next cookout and/or never ending obsession with hotdogs (looking at you, Scott Reitz). However you eat it, roasting is the way to go. The contrast of sweet and salty plus crisp and juicy will make all your summer corn dreams come true.