Sunday, August 8, 2010

Summer Afternoon Slaw

"We know that our corn is good when the raccoons start eating it" said the husband and wife team of growers. They both wore black hats with Heinel farm embroidery, and black t-shirts. The man had a goatee on his chin and a bitter sweet sense of sarcasm that made me think he must listen to heavy metal. His wife was undoubtedly also into heavy metal, and seemed to be able to comfortably fluctuate between a sarcastic edge and a genuine sunny disposition. The two of them seemed completely in sync, as though they had been best friend since high school. I was grilling them about their corn.

A local chef recently mentioned that she has been educating all of the staff in her restaurant about how they shouldn't be upset when they find bugs in their produce. The presence of bugs means that what you have is a good product. If the bugs won't eat something, then it probably contains some sort of poison. The husband and wife team at Heinel farms opt not to spray their corn with pesticides, but instead chop the tips off when the corn gets tasty enough for the critters. Corn bugs usually prefer to house themselves in the tips.

I walked around asking all the growers what type of corn they were growing. Some of them rattled off names, like "Supersweet", "Ambrosia", or "Bodacious". Others just gave me the catalogue number. There are many different classifications su is the oldest type of sweet corn, followed by se (sugary extender) which retain sweetness for 2-4 days in the fridge. sh2 are the supersweet varieties with 4-10 times the sugar of su corn, which stay sweet for up to 10 days. The final types are the sy, triple sweet and sweet gene varieties, which combine multiple types of corn genetics on the same ear.

I noticed one vendor selling a brand with a trade mark sign on the name "Mirai" corn. This type of corn supposedly is the sweetest on the market and can contain over 45% sugar. I asked if the Mirai sweet corn was used for making corn sweeteners, but was told that despite the lower sugar content, basic field corn is actually used to make sweeteners. Corn sweeteners are made by taking field corn and allowing a bacteria to break up the starch.

Most of the growers boast about the high sugar content of their crops, which I take to be an indicator that this is a major selling point for most people. This surprised me considering many of the conversations I have had with market shoppers seemed to indicate that many people are of the opinion that corn sweeteners are evil.

I pondered this question as I walked over to one of the vendors, picked up a deliciously pristine ear of corn (complete with worm on the tip) and took a deeply satisfying crunch directly out of the middle of the cob. It was so delicious that I didn't dare buy more, because it never would have made it home without getting eaten in the car.

Summer Afternoon Slaw
In a food processor (or using a grater) shred:
4 medium carrots
1/2 kohlrabi
1/4th medium green cabbage
1/6th medium red cabbage
1/2 small daikon radish

dress with:
1 1/2 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 1/2 Tbsp rice vinegar
2 tsp brown sugar
2 tsp soy sauce

Christina's vote: "There was not enough to satisfy me"

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