Thursday, July 23, 2009
Some people crave chocolate, cookies, ice cream, Snickers, M&M's or
Almond Joy. I crave focaccia. It started out innocently enough and at a very young age. As a child, we would go to Santa Cruz to visit Uncle Mill (Emillio) my aunt Rose who we all called Gog..I still to this day don't know what that means..and Noni, my great grandmother. Every Sunday we made the pilgrimage over Highway 17 from Los Gatos over to the beach. It took only 30 minutes, but when your 8...it felt like FOREVER. But it was worth it. We went for lunch, but it was more like dinner. And served at one o' clock. Uncle Mill always had something on the grill. Usually lamb or pork.
Gog and Noni would be in the kitchen making the raviolis. The pasta stretched into long thin sheets, filled with swiss chard from the garden, ricotta and herbs. After the raviolis were boiled, they were slid into a big earthenware bowl and dressed with just butter and sage. And then, the best part. The focaccia. All salty and both crunchy and soft. One bite, and a lifelong love was born.
It's country fair time here on the Central Coast of California. And everyone is excited about it. Except me. I'm going to say it. I don't like it. There. I used to love it. But that was "back then". When it was "old fashioned and farmy". Today, it's all about the "big entertainment". People pushing and shoving to see Carrie Underwood or Tim McGraw. Don't get me wrong. I actually like country music. But it is not what the fair that I know and love brings to mind. My mind goes to canned goods. Not Tim McGraw. I loved looking at all the vegetables in jars. Jars filled with corn relish, chow-chow, green beans, dill pickles and beets. And the jam and jelly..Oh, please, don't even get me started in that department. I didn't just admire all the jewel toned jars, I swooned. I think part of what I liked so much was imagining what the kitchens looked like from where theses treasures where made. Red gingham curtains flapping in the warm summer breeze, an old Wedgewood stove with the jars bouncing and rattling in the hot water, a peach pie cooling on the windowsill. And the lady in charge...she had not just come from getting a manicure..you can be assured. Nope, she's been out in the garden. Picking lemon cucumbers to have sliced alongside the meatloaf that she is making for dinner. Dressed in a short sleeved Ship-N-Shore blouse, denim pull-me-up pants and Keds.
My other favorite part was the garden vegetables. The huge orange pumpkins, the green beans, tomatoes, beets...but really and truly for me..it was all about the corn. All the different kinds just fascinated me. Still does. They way they were all layed out on the tables. Silver Queen, country gentleman, peaches & cream, honey & cream, kandy korn, early & often, golden bantam, sweet summer, sugar pearl, corn maple sugar. I am wondering if it is the corn I loved....or the names.
I have planted corn every summer since I was in kindergarten. No matter where I have lived, always...even if it meant the front yard in order to get the good south facing sun. I am in love with corn. Just the other day I heard mine rustling in the garden and I raced to turn down my KJUG radio so I could listen to that instead.
So this year, once again, I'll sit out the fair. I'd rather be home. Watering my corn.