Four hundred and fifty thousand Americans are blogging right now about their 4th of July gastronomic adventures. You can only read so much about burgers, wings, and beer. So, to maintain your interest, I have included a fun tip, a lesson of the culinary kind.
My 4th celebration was at home. With my cat. At 2pm. I had no grill to scrub, no drunks to kick out, and the whole afternoon and evening was left open to nap. But that’s not the lesson.
BBQ, store-bought in a tub with the addition of bottled sauce. “Addition” sounds like a lesson, but that’s not it. Mixed greens and kale with Caesar dressing. Baby carrots. Sweet corn boiled up with salt and sugar added to the water – that could be a lesson but everyone knows that’s the only way to boil up corn. Now you’re seeing it. The buttered bread. Who has buttered bread on the 4th of July? Only those who have learned the lesson, my friends. Only those who have learned the lesson.
Growing up, how to eat corn was a challenge that plagued my family every summer. Of course the “holders”, plastic miniature corn cobs with dual spears, were mandatory for getting a grip on the thing. Butter and black pepper were indicated. Nay, required. You can put as much salt and sugar as you like in the boiling water, but sweet corn ain’t no good iffin’ it ain’t got no butter and black pepper. The conundrum: how do you make the butter stick? In magazine photos there is always a geometrically perfect pat of butter perched atop the ear. Good thing they snapped that shot when they did, ’cause two seconds later that pat of butter oozed its way off the corn and onto the plate, un-scoopable and worthless.
My family did try that ‘roll the ear right on the stick of butter’ fad, but once my mother saw all the wayward corn silk stuck to the butter plate she put the kabash on that right away.
The lesson, the tip, is in the slice of bread. My mother is from Jersey, my father is from Alabama, so it’s not a Northern nor a Southern thing, but when I lived in a double-wide out in Southern Illinois I was introduced to the glory that is the butter-to-bread-to-corn application system. Must be a Midwestern thing. Not difficult in preparation or execution, the diner simply smears butter on bread, holds bread on palm of hand, slaps the corn cob in the middle of the bread, squeezes hand around bread and uses other hand to twist cob around and around. Laws of physics ensue and the butter gets on the corn. The corn gets buttered. Even those little spaces between the kernels get jam-packed with butter. The process is inspired. Transcendent. The result: delicious.
Now, that’s your lesson. Your fun tip. Perhaps you have learned something today. Perhaps you’ve been reminded of something you forgot. Perhaps you already knew this, have been doing it for years, did it this very day, this very 4th of July and you’re thinking I’m pretty lame for making you read this whole post. Nope. I’m just glad you read it. There’s a lesson in that, too.