In Our Fall 2016 Issue
EAT YOUR VEGGIES: THE LASTING MEMORIES OF CREAM-STYLE CORN
My father was a meat and potatoes kind of guy. He never really needed a menu when we went out to dinner. Just a nice medium-rare T-bone with a baked potato suited him fine. Vegetables made for a nice plate decoration, especially if they were green.
My dad passed away more than 35 years ago and some may contend that his eating habits played a role in it. But my father was a man who knew what he liked and he like creamed corn. In our house it was referred to as cream-style corn.
It’s been a big year for corn in our neck of the woods. The weather has been perfect with adequate rain and warm temperatures. I had some sweet corn off the cob the other night and it was some of the best I’ve ever had. But there’s something about cream-style corn that I really like now and maybe because it’s one of the few odd-ball foods that I remember my dad liking so I like it, too.
There’s nothing fancy about cream-style corn with its kernels shaved off the cob then placed in a frying pan to be sautéed in its own juices with milk or cream and some salt and pepper.
But then you could follow the directions my mother usually used: “Aisle 4 on the right,” might have been something my mom heard if she was in an unfamiliar grocery store.
Again, especially when canned, it wasn’t probably one of the healthiest of sides but I’m writing this because I want to emphasize the importance of what you feed your children and how it can leave an imprint on their memories.
And, as was the case with my father, I don’t remember being a huge fan of this runny side dish that seemed to mix with everything else on the plate. I just remember my dad gobbling it up and, frankly, I have a craving now and then to grab a can opener and follow in my dad’s footsteps.
But we should know better now and it’s hard to imagine that children would find a walk down the canned goods aisle more exciting than helping mom or dad choose from the selection of fresh-picked produce at the farmers market. Or, even better, help harvest that produce from the family garden. But as fall sets in it reminds us that winter can’t be far behind and all that great produce we pick up at the market can only last so long.
My dad wanted his cream-style corn all year round. Since he liked it out of a can, he probably didn’t care too much about the canning and the preserving process many people will undertake this fall. But he might be interested to fi nd out that his favorite canned corn might not have been bumping up against his baked potato had it not been for Bryan Donkin.
It was in 1813 that Queen Charlotte of England, wife of King George III, dipped into Donkin’s newly invented tin can and gave the beef a thumbs up. It’s not hard to believe that Charlotte had someone else try it fi rst but her approval changed the way we’ve eaten food ever since. It was especially popular with the British navy, whose men had been surviving on a limited menu of salted meat and hardtack for a couple hundred years.
Donkin’s invention played off the work of Frenchman Nicolas Appert who developed the basic method of canning many gardeners and farm market regulars still use today. Hopefully we will instill in our children the satisfaction of preserving their own food for winter.
Meanwhile, pardon me if I don’t on occasion reach to the back of the pantry for a can of cream-style corn. Thanks to Appert and Donkin it should still be good.
-on Gast, Co-Owner/Editor of Edible Door