My friend got married right after college in a very small town in western Michigan. Marshall had cobble-stone streets, an old trust bank, and a fountain quietly jetting out of a limestone bowl. The morning of the wedding brought a parade (and a wedding, eventually). Brass bands marched down the Main Street and people whistled and cheered from the sidewalk.
At a break in the parade I stopped to buy some corn on the cob. The cobs roasting near the stand smelled great and looked even better: the healthy yellow of sunflowers. Yet one bite in and ... tasteless. Ditto for the second. â€œThis must be what they use to feed cattle,â€ my girlfriend said. If that were true, then humans deserved better.
Since then I've waited for a juicy, earthful, life-giving cob. Now that wait is over.
Every Sunday from 9:30am-1pm at the Santa Monica Farmerâ€™s Market on Main Street the SeÃ±or Corn stand is hard to miss. Thatâ€™s because a line fifteen or twenty people deep will have snaked itself around it and an adjacent stand. Among the bustle of baby strollers and hawkers of produce and perfectly chic actress/comediennes, SeÃ±or Corn is the axis of golden goodness.
As you shuffle along in the inevitable line, take note as fully-dressed cobs are being laid onto a shelf within a five-foot square steel roaster. This is done very quickly, carefully. Expertly. Which is good, because inside the roaster temperatures can reach as high as 450 degrees. The cobs are more or less scorched by the heat pulsing from above and below, and when the cycle is over the husks have turned brittle, mostly flaking off. But, oh, the flavor they've left behind!
A plain cob tastes moderately sweet. Then, by the second or third bite another sensation comes through: a toasting, not unlike the crust of a marshmallow cooked over an open flame. And this makes sense, because of course corn on the cob is nostalgia food, reaching back in time through decades of summer barbeques.
If you're in the mood for zest -- or would as soon forget all those three-legged races and embarrassing Uncles -- then the seasoning table is worth a look. Set just off to the side of the stand, Tone's products range from hot (cayenne, chili power) to savory (sea salt and parsley) to citrus-y (lime and lemon pepper). If you're truly adventurous, try a "suicide" by rolling your cob in the shallow pan that catches all the poly-flavored salt run-off. Not for the meek.
At $2.75 a cob, Senor Corn roasts the finest, most wholesome and affordable snack on Main Street. Cattle could never appreciate corn this good.
WORLD - CITY LIVING
Copyright © 2010 Matt Weston
Si, Senor Corn
Copyright © 2010 Matt Weston
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