The first in a series of very lazy year end posts that, like a good clip show, celebrate our best moments of the year with absolutely no creative effort of any kind. The following article first appeared in our October 28th issue.
Too Good For God
by Ben McLaughlin
Though I sincerely hope that I was not deprived of the luscious nectar of the gods for the first six years of my life, my first tangible encounter with sweet corn was had at my grandma’s dinner table in suburban Dublin.
My parents rid themselves of my selfish antics for the day, presumably to go shopping and chilling without my mouthy presence, and the onus was placed on my grandparents to provide me with nourishment and entertainment. The entertainment was easy. Throw a devastatingly before- his-time handsome six year old in front of the fun box and the opportunities are endless. Cartoons bored me; my sharp intellect already pronounced, I liked soccer or the occasional roundtable political discussion, but just having the ability to pry the clicker out of my Dad’s omnipotent fingertips made me happy in and of itself. There was only one thing that could steal me away from the power of the television: the “Granny Special,” a meal so decadent and grandiose that it earned the name special, but also a perfect middle of the day fodder for my rotund childish body.
I loved food—I still do—but something about three years at the Ultimate Dining Marketplace and a fridge filled only with condiments has stunted my once lively palette. However, though I was unashamedly inexperienced with most worldwide cuisines and not privy to continental spices, I knew one thing: I liked meat, I liked potatoes (what good Irishman doesn’t?) and knew that veggies were both for rabbits and serious pussy shit. The “Granny Special” contained the two aforementioned requirements, usually in the form of chicken and some lightly buttered mashed potatoes, but the twist was in the mashing. By camouflaging the mashed potatoes in succulent gravy, my grandma was able to sneak carrots, celery, onions and corn into my potatoes, offering me all the vitamins I needed with all the flavor I desired. While the carrots, celery and onions were unrequired extras in an otherwise stunning meal, the corn became the key, a facet without which the meal was not worth eating.
While the “Granny Special” framed my early food experiences, it only touched off my love affair with sweet corn that has lasted to this day. In fact, on this day, I ate mashed potatoes with corn and gravy at the caf, bringing my life full circle, and my belly great happiness. Over the years, I have appealed to my friends to understand my passion for corn, which is almost always met with a look of disbelief. See, everyone likes corn, at least more than people like Korn, though people are painfully unwilling to depart from the food norm. I would suggest that most people like their savories and sweets separate, their salts and their sugars separate, but to become an appreciative eater one must first become an omnivorous eater. The best thing I ate in the last year was a banana and bacon pancake, and while the seven people reading this article may now be twisting their faces into positions only reserved for a viewing of “Two Girls One Cup,” I dare everyone to try it. You see, eating does not have to be a difficult, tiresome, or painful process if one has tasty ingredients and can cook (the first I rarely have, the second I could do only with a gun at my head).
What I am suggesting is that, after a couple of hours of thoughtful reflection and stomach-twisting hunger, I am unable to find a meal or even an ingredient that would not go successfully with corn. Now let me divulge the criteria here. I am talking not about items made from corn (If I was, the list could go on forever), but actual kernels of corn, ripped straight off the cob and served in groups of a hundred, like a mound of tasty yet willing servants. Even as an individual, however, one kernel can be completely life changing, no matter what it is paired with. A roundtable discussion of esteemed foodologists including myself revealed few foods that corn could not be paired with. Cereal was mentioned; however, corn soaked in milk is still corn, and once the milk is licked off, it still retains all of its value. The thought of sushi provided some dodgy faces, but if people can eat eel in sushi then they are liars if they can’t eat corn in sushi. Sandwiches of various kinds were thrown around, with peanut butter being mentioned as the worst coupled ingredient. Again, I am of the persuasion that two rights make an extra right, and how could two things as good as corn and peanut butter not taste fantastic together? It’s like lesbian porn.
And at the end of the day, after a good corn-filled meal, one can check the status of one’s system by peering into the toilet bowl and exploring one’s activities. Corn, somehow, is too badass for the digestive system, too good for God, and unwilling to succumb to the pressures of the man. Corn gives you the tastiest sensation without ever compromising its status, sliding out once again to rejoin its corn brethren. If that is not the measure of a quality bit of food, then what is?