Editor's note: The Southern Foodways Alliance delves deep in the history, tradition, heroes and plain old deliciousness of Southern food. Today's contributor, Virginia Willis, is the author of cookbooks "Bon Appétit, Y’all" and "Basic to Brilliant, Y’all." She is a contributing editor to Southern Living and a frequent contributor to Taste of the South. She also wrote Eatocracy's most-commented post of all time.
In this series for the Southern Foodways Alliance, I am examining iconic Southern foods that so completely belong to summer that if you haven’t relished them before Labor Day, you should consider yourself deprived of the entire season. My plan is to share a little history and a few recipes that I hope you will enjoy.
We kicked off the series with homemade ice cream. Coming up, I’ll feature tomatoes, squash, peas & beans, okra, peaches, and finish up right before Labor Day with a barbecued Boston butt. This week, we’re going crazy for corn!
Corn is not only an iconic Southern food; it’s All-American. Granted, as a country, we have perhaps become overly dependent on corn. But instead of the unpleasantries of industrial agriculture, let’s focus on buttery juices dribbling down your wrists, old-fashioned miniature plastic corn forks jauntily stabbed into the ends of the cob, and bacon fat melting in the cast-iron skillet, ready to receive freshly cut, milky kernels for creamed corn.
Vegetables are leafy, crunchy, luscious, colorful little presents the earth gives out to say it loves us. They're packed with the vitamins and nutrients we need to keep from perishing of all manner of dreadful pirate diseases like rickets, scurvy and beriberi.
The least we can do is prepare them as deliciously as possible. Here's our best advice for making the most of the season's bounty.
Vegetarians are (mostly) not here just to ruin your good time. Really. I swear. I was one, myself for seven years and all I wanted at a cookout was to hang out with my friends, and not have to worry that the omnivores would gobble up all the meat-free sides before I got to the table.
Here are a few of my favorite ways to celebrate the bounty of the season and make sure all my guests leave full and satisfied - no matter how they choose to chow down.
Scorpacciata is a term that means consuming large amounts of a particular local ingredient while it's in season. It's a good way to eat. David LeFevre is the executive chef and co-owner of Manhattan Beach Post in Manhattan Beach, California.
Like Garrison Keillor said, “Sex is good, but not as good as fresh sweet corn."
Sweet corn evokes memories of my summers on the East Coast with my grandfather and the wonderful meals that my grandmother would make with the corn that my grandfather and I had picked, shucked and cooked.
When corn season comes around, it is always an exciting time in the restaurant. We focus on a few key things when we are cooking with corn: the best quality product, a fresh product, minimal cooking time so as to not lose the fresh sweet flavor, proper technique, and making sure to remember it’s a fun, down-and-dirty experience to eat it.
Eatocracy's Managing Editor Kat Kinsman attempts to vegetable garden on a roof deck in Brooklyn, NY in USDA Hardiness Zone 6b. Feel free to taunt, advise or encourage her efforts as this series progresses.
This morning, I stood on my roof deck and made my African Guinea Flint corn have sex with itself.
Some folks knit, ride dirt bikes or collect small, disturbingly lifelike figurines of a baby Lord Voldemort. I get my kicks from raising heirloom vegetables.
The process isn't always quite so hands-on. Mostly, it's just a matter of sticking seeds or shoots in dirt, fertilizing, watering and presto - potatoes, tomatoes and radishes as far as the eye can see. And if you have the acreage, corn would probably not require the services of a social director.
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