I grew up on a very familiar basis with corn. Both sets of grandparents grew it every year, and we would eat what they put by year-round. Every summer, we would gather in my grandmother's basement or out in the carport and shuck, de-silk, and cut corn off the cob. Most of it was frozen for later use, but for about a month, corn on the cob was on the menu every day.
One sweltering summer day, I was out in the cornfield with my grandfather picking ears of corn and throwing them into a bucket. The stalks towered above us, and they were so dense that the light in the shade beneath them had a green tint to it. My grandfather found a perfect ear--one without a worm nibbling the tip--and deftly shucked it, gave it to me, and told me to eat it. At that time, I'd never had a raw ear of corn and the idea was new to me. I wasn't sure that corn without butter and salt could be very good. But when I took a bite my taste buds lit up. It was perfect. Warm from the sun and perfectly sweet, it was the essence of summer. I think I ate 6 ears of corn that day.
It's easy to overlook corn because it's everywhere, and it's gotten a bad reputation for being turned into corn syrup and packed into everything from soda to bottled tomato sauce. But like so many maligned foods, corn is, at bottom, something good to eat when the time is right.
This corn oyster recipe was originally in the 1936 edition of Joy, and it is really just a very simple corn fritter that happens to have the appealing shape of an oyster when fried in butter. We've been eating them with tomato chutney, but they are amazing with maple syrup as well. Corn has a lovely way of lending itself to both sweet and savory applications.
Combine in a medium bowl:
1 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels (from 2 large ears of corn)
2 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup all-purpose flour or fine cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Melt in a medium skillet over medium heat:
1 tablespoon butter
When the butter is starting to brown, add the batter, in batches, with a tablespoon. Cook, turning once, until brown on both sides. If needed, wipe out the pan with a paper towel between batches and add more butter. Serve with: