Tag Archives: corn

Eyes Wide Shut: Asian Cucumber Salad, Summer Corn and Tomato Couscous

1 Aug

Lunch lady

Sometimes, caving is delicious.

I spend most of the year treating corn products like pot holes or wads of fresh chewing gum on the street. They’re little more than unpleasant nuisances of modern existence that I feel my hard-earned tax dollars should be spent eliminating from my life, but that I’m quite sure, through a series of nefarious double deals on both sides of the aisle and inbetween, help fund their omnipresence. Corn is everywhere!

Grill a burger, top it with ketchup and a bun, eat some fries and drink a soda and you just consumed not just what was on your plate, but acres of corn, corn, corn. It’s in the high fructose syrup that sweetens our sodas and acts as the building block for our hamburger buns and sauces (like ketchup), it’s fed to the cows that produce most of the beef for our burgers (not to mention the cheese that goes on top of that burger), and the fries that we eat with that burger are fried in a vat of the corn’s oil.

In all, about half of our calories come from corn.

The crop has taken over much of America’s arable land, kicking out multi-use family farms, turning our meadows and prairies into a bland beige-yellow monoculture, stretching from sea to shining sea and eliminating and endangering dozens of adorable / delicious / environmentally essential plants and animals that eat plants other than corn to survive. Corn is the Kardashian Klan of foods; it could have been a quirky, snarky little snap of entertainment, but it went and got greedy. Its ubiquity has deleveraged the value of the brand, eliminating my appetite for it, even straight up.

Most of the time.

This summer, I’ve thrown my sociopolitical vendetta against corn in the compost heap. I ended up with a cob of it on my plate at a cookout a month ago, and I bit into it, knowing full well that it was probably flown in from a giant factory farm thousands of miles away that pollutes and uses pesticides. It wasn’t very green of me, but it was … delicious. Sweet, salty with a smear of lime-spiked mayo and some chipotle. More please! I’ve been buying it by the bushel ever since, and feeling mildly transgressive.

Is corn and corn alone okay to eat? I mean, if it’s local and / or organic and ensconced in its little green husk, nature’s wrapping paper, is eating corn still as bad as beating up blind baby seals with a mink-covered baseball bat?

I don’t know. Ask Michael Pollan.

I do know this: it tastes like America. The America I grew up loving; a slightly sweet, slightly nutty, crunchy-crisp-soft-with-a-touch-of-tough-loveliness that needs little more than a bit of elbow grease, a lick of fire and a dash of salt to whip it into prime shape. In salads, wraps, stir fries, soups and just plain.

I’ll go back to the corn ban in September. This week, I made a Summer Corn and Tomato Couscous and a Crispy Cucumber Salad. Yes, a crispy cucumber salad. The water-logged vegetable has met its match, and its soupy reign on my parade is over.

Click on for recipes and photos.

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