A few weeks back I got a text from a friend who was visiting his family on the East Coast: “Why does sweet corn here taste so much better than in California?” I quickly replied “You need to taste our corn!”. My friend lives on the Central Coast, outside of our delivery area.
Despite my small boast, I thought to myself, “I wonder why he thinks that”. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten any corn in California other than Terra Firma’s. We don’t do anything magic to our corn. I always figured all corn grown in the state was probably pretty tasty, as long as it was freshly harvested.
Until last Saturday. I was at a friend’s birthday party and they were grilling. Normally sweet corn is my go-to vegetable to bring to potlucks and other parties, but for whatever reason this time I had brought a couple of melons.
There was corn on the BBQ though, and when it was handed around I grabbed an ear. I shucked it, bit into it, and experienced a moment of pure cognitive dissonance as my tastebuds failed to register the range of experiences I generally associate with eating freshly grilled sweet corn: juicy, sweet, smoky, corn-y.
I looked at the ear of corn in my hand to double check: Yes, it was corn. I took another bite. This time I actually recoiled slightly when I realized the kernels did not come off the cob in an explosion of flavor. Chewing the corn was slightly laborious, too. It was not tender. It was not sweet. It was not juicy.
It didn’t taste like anything. I couldn’t bring myself to eat any more of it.
The sweet corn varieties we grow come from Illinois, actually. They are produced by a company that specializes in sweet corn, and are the type called “Supersweet” which means they are bred to develop starch slowly after harvest. We grow three varieties, which as you know are all bi-color (yellow and white kernels), with each one maturing a few days apart from the others. They all taste pretty similar.
Which is to say, they taste pretty darn great.
We spend a lot of time around here worrying about worms in your corn. And I do understand that some people get freaked out by them. But now that I have tried some real supermarket corn — with no worms! — I’m pretty sure that I personally would rather share a little of my Terra Firma corn with a few caterpillars than eat any of that bland, insipid corn again.
I hope you feel the same way.