Although I love the taste and texture of fresh corn, eating corn on the cob has never been one of my favorite mealtime activities. The corn takes up too much room on the plate, for one thing, and the butter runs off and pools under the cob instead of staying put. Those reasons are good, but what ruins corn on the cob for me is my memory of feeding the hogs on my dad’s farm.
In these days when the field corn has dried on its stalks, farmers drive huge John Deere combines through the field. They are called combines because the machine combines all tasks into one operation. It gobbles up the whole corn stalk, chops it up, removes the kernels from the cobs, spits out the debris and pours shelled corn into a waiting grain truck. A whole field is harvested in just a few hours.
In my dad’s day, corn was harvested by hand over a period of weeks. Dad would hitch up Babe and Belle to the farm wagon and drive to the beginning of a row of corn. He climbed down, pulled on his gloves, and twisted ears of dried corn off the stalks one by one, tossing them into the wagon while the big horses waited patiently. When Dad was ready to move down the row, he spoke softly to the team of horses, who moved forward until he called, “Whoa.”
Later Dad shucked the corn by hand and stored the golden ears in the corn bin, conveniently located on the side of the barn nearest the pig pen. Dad always kept several brood sows that produced litters of piglets twice a year. The dried corn on the cob was a principal part of their diet and when I helped Dad with the evening chores it was my job to fill a bucket with ears of corn and toss them over the fence into the pig pen. I was forbidden to go into the pen, for mature hogs are powerful and dangerous omnivores.
The sows were in hog heaven, crunching, snuffling, grunting, and slobbering as they stripped kernels from the cobs. Somehow, after witnessing their eating habits, I lost interest in eating corn on the cob.
A better way for humans to consume fresh corn is to heat some butter in a saucepan or skillet, cut the kernels off the cobs, put the corn kernels in the butter, and sauté them for a few minutes. Finish the dish off with some salt and pepper, and eat like a civilized person.
Copyright 2015 by Shirley Domer.