No Need for Cooking. Raw Sweet Corn.

The short version:

Sweet yellow and bi-color corn made a great appearance at the market today. The bi-color corn from Race Farms was particularly lovely.

The long version:

The appearance of corn in the middle of summer makes me especially nostalgic. My grandparents had a large plot of land behind their house in Lorain, Ohio, which snaked along the center of the Black River, and the other edge of the property was bounded by a field of sweet corn. The names of the corn were tantalizing: Silver Queen, Butter & Sugar, Supersweet. Supersweet sounded the best, but Silver Queen was secretly tastiest. My siblings and I would sometimes find the soft flint remains of arrowheads between the rows of corn, and corn was forever tied for me to the idea of wrangling your own food.

Many have lamented the disappearance of Silver Queen corn, a pearly white sweet corn that was once available at nearly every roadside farm stand and now is almost impossible to find. It had bright, firm,sweet kernels that seemed perfect for holding salt and butter. I miss it, too. But as American corn growers are moving away from older corn varieties like Silver Queen, and more toward more generic-tasting corn varieties that stay sweet much longer after harvest, the window where corn retains its "just picked" sweetness has lengthened.

The unexpected upside of the trend toward heartier sweet corn is that you can eat the more durable varieties directly off the cob, raw. It is sweet and delicious for a day or two after picking. A bite of raw corn is springing with flavor, juicy, and unexpectedly sweet. The idea of eating corn that hadn't been cooked, usually steamed by my grandmother, would have struck me, as a child, as revolting.

I can't say for sure that the corn of my childhood would have been worse raw that what I'm eating now, but what I do know is that the corn I find in the Greenmarket now, and even (gasp!) the supermarket is less starchy than I remember my experimental bites of uncooked corn as a child. If I'm able to track down some precious ears of Silver Queen this summer, I'll do a taste test of raw ears, and post my findings. But I can say with confidence of the corn that's at the market right now, if you haven't already, try it raw.

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