I work at a manufacturer in Norton Shores, and we are not visited by the roach coaches, a jesting name for the mobile canteen wagons that visit job shops and factories and sell soda, chips and sandwiches. We are too small to have a cafeteria serving a hot breakfast and lunch. This summer, one of the men in shipping had the idea to invite his wife to sell peppers, tomatoes and sweet corn on a picnic table near the back office door. His daughter sold zucchini bread she had baked in her mother's oven. The receptionist sends an email to every address in the offices alerting us to the arrival of the farmer's wife. By the time I showed up, a single bag of sweet corn remained, which she sold to me for three dollars. The two women visiting with her dialed up an executive assistant to make certain she had picked up her dozen. The dozen cleared for sale, I gave her a fiver and she let me fill a bag with tomatoes, selecting from a plastic bucket. She said she would say stop when I had picked out two dollars worth of tomatoes. I just gave up after picking out ten. There's no way I can eat more than ten tomatoes before half of them rot. I just plan on slicing them up into quarters and eating with seasoned salt. I dropped a few on the ground and the skins burst. She took these back, planning to feed them to chickens that would gobble every bit.I brought home the dozen, and I set to shucking them on the back porch. I used to shuck all of our sweet corn for the family table, which we boiled and served with butter and salt on the picnic table all late summer long. We grew our own sweet corn, two acres of our five acres planted to sweet corn. My father, nicknamed Father Ed, took dozens in plastic bags to his factory, and guys from the shop looked him up at his car to buy it all out. A few men would pre-order enough big corn roasts on the three day weekends, and often we had to call upon neighbors to help us supply the demand. Tonight, I had some difficulty snapping off the stems, my hands suffering from arthritis. I left five for another day. The sugar in the corn changes to starch rapidly, so I am planning to shuck and eat them tomorrow. I think I'll try to microwave them. I added water to the pot, and I shouldn't have been surprised. I had seen a hole in two ears, a hole that penetrated the shucks and the kernels. Under water, the corn borers began to wiggle out of the holes that had been bored into the cob. Each retracted into the cob when I tried to extract them. I decided to spare the borers, and I threw the two cobs into the weeds across the creek. I had five ears that cooked up quickly in the boiling water, and I seasoned the kernels with Celtic sea salt and munched with abandon. I might have to cruise the farmer's markets for more. I better check them out tomorrow.
Photography CreditEuropean corn borer, Ostrinia nubilalis Photo by Keith Weller.
Permission PD-USGOV-USDA-ARS.Ostrinia nubilalis
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