Written By Kimberley Cuachon Haugh —
Celebrating the season with corn.
Two years ago when my husband and I visited Tulum, Mexico, which is an hour and a half south of Cancun, we rekindled memories of one of our first dates over an ear of grilled corn. The corn wasn’t like the typical sweet yellow or white corn that we are used to in America. It was much longer and narrower. My husband, Josh, called it “feed corn” or “cow corn.” What made this feed corn edible was it being slathered with lime mayonnaise, parmesan cheese, and sprinkled with paprika. Bear in mind that this was literally a roadside stand, and the mayonnaise and cheese should have probably been refrigerated—I guess you can say we took a chance for romance.
If you’re wondering about that first date with the corn, it was at a Caribbean festival in Toronto. We shared an ear of grilled corn slathered in butter and jerk spices, which was a new thing for Josh. Whether he liked it or not, I’m not sure, but we made it to another date.
With now being that time of year of sweet corn, which begins July 1 and continues until first frost, typically in September, I am inspired. As a Canadian living in Williamsburg there is also the American historical interest that lies with the very first ear of corn that was given to the first European settlers by the Native Americans. Before the Europeans came to the New World, they had never seen this food. Called mahiz, the Native American word for corn, the colonists were shown that corn was a wonderful and versatile gift. Everything on the corn plant could be used: the husks for tamales, the silk for medicinal tea, the kernels for food and the stalks for fodder—feed for livestock. Americans learned quite quickly that corn is not only food but the foundation of bourbon, corn flour, cornmeal, corn oil, cornstarch, corn syrup, corn whiskey and laundry starch.
When purchasing corn, of course, the fresher the better, so hit your local farmer’s market and cook the corn the day you purchase them. If need be, corn can be refrigerated up to a day. A few things you need to look for: ears that are bright green, tight husks with golden brown silk, plump and milky kernels that come all the way to the ear’s tip and rows that are tightly spaced.
One corn recipe that is dear to my heart is one that takes me back to my indigenous roots, a Filipino dessert called maiz con hielo—literally, sweet corn with ice. On our hot Virginia summer days, it is the perfect dessert that celebrated the season. And it is so easy.
- sweet corn, fresh
- shaved ice
- milk (you can use evaporated milk for a richer dessert)
- queso ice cream, optional (or if you cannot find queso, you can use vanilla)
- 1. Cook and strip the kernels from your corn.
- 2. In a tall glass, layer kernels and shaved ice.
- 3. Add milk and sugar to your liking. Personally, I fill the glass almost to the top with milk, and add sugar to taste.
- 4. Top with a scoop of ice cream.