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« Political Divisions | Main | Cheeta at 74 »

July 06, 2006

Corn Eating: Typewriter or Lathe?

Donald Pittenger writes:

Dear Blowhards --

[Slaps forehead]

It's upon us, and I almost forgot!

Corn on the cob season is getting underway. I ate my first ear of 2006 on July 4th (it was grown in California). By August, locally grown sweet corn will be available nearly everywhere in the U.S.

(For readers outside Anglophone America, I'm talking about Maize and not the grains you call corn.)

Some folks can be pretty fussy about corn. I know a woman who grew up on a farm where they'd plant a couple rows of sweet corn next to the fence of a field of feed corn. When they wanted corn they simply plucked some ears off the stalks and plopped 'em right into the pot of boiling water. So to her, even two-day-old supermarket corn was impossibly old.

Me, I don't even care if the corn is more starchy than sweet -- an interesting point of view from the world's seventh most fussy eater (I moved up a few places since the last time I reported my ranking).

While munching that tasty ear on the Fourth, I happened to notice the eating techniques of those of us at the table.

The two men ate the corn from side-to-side, about three rows at a time. I'll call this "typewriter style."

The two women, on the other hand, ate around the cob, only moving along it once a circuit was completed. This I'll term "lathe style."

Questions to readers: Are these eating styles sex-based tendencies as my n=4 sample suggests? Are you a lathe or a typewriter? And what about your friends and relatives?



posted by Donald at July 6, 2006


chomp. chomp. chomp. chomp. ka-ching!
carriage return.

Half the enjoyment of eating corn is the perceived humor of teeth running rapidly side-to-side over the cob.

It's a 3 Stooges thing, isn't it?!

Posted by: DarkoV on July 6, 2006 4:35 PM

I never noticed a diff between the sexes in their corn-on-the-cob habits, except maybe that the gals tended to be neater. But I'll keep my eyes open. I'm a mega-snob myself where it comes to corn on the cob. Grew up in Western NY, where one of the few food-things they do well is corn, and spent a few summers working on local farms. So any corn that isn't a day old or less strikes me as not worth the effort. There's a special snap or buzz that the taste has when the corn is super-fresh ... Otherwise it just seems mealy and unappealing to me. What this means in NYC is, alas, that I almost never eat corn on the cob -- the corn on sale here is almost always a few days old. Drat!

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on July 6, 2006 4:45 PM

My once monthly trips to Weatherford for First Monday Trade Days are always celebrated by eating a big ol' ear of roasted-in-the-shuck corn. The vendors are a nice Mexican family who know that corn on the cob is best flavored with a full brush of warm foamy butter, and then rolled in a spicy mix of chili powder, cilantro, garlic, and lime salt...oh yum!

And, yes, typewriter style with butter from earlobe to earlobe is mandatory.

Posted by: Cowtown Pattie on July 6, 2006 9:31 PM

My answer is "neither." I cut the kernels off the cob with a knife and eat them with a fork.


Posted by: Peter on July 6, 2006 9:46 PM

Everyone I have ever seen eat corn on the cob - male or female - has eaten it "typewriter" style, except for me (a guy) and one girl in college.

Posted by: hatless in hattiesburg on July 6, 2006 10:05 PM

Typewriter. Definitely typewriter. I didn't even know there was any other way to eat corn on the cob until I read this!

Posted by: Dwight Decker on July 7, 2006 12:08 PM

But you omitted more interesting question:

Do you or do you not suck the juice? After you've chew on the kernels.

Posted by: Tat on July 7, 2006 8:42 PM

Typewriter. Until I'm almost finished, when I become a grazer looking for more.

Michael, if you haven't been to Blue Hill Stone Barns, you gotta go. In the summer you can eat on the terrace.

Posted by: john massengale on July 7, 2006 9:35 PM

What I have done, ever since I can remember, is eat lathe style to make two "handles" on each end, and then finish off the rest in a mixture of the two styles.

While we are on the subject, I would add that I don't care for most modern varities of corn, which are sweet or even super sweet, but don't taste much like corn.

Posted by: JIm Miller on July 9, 2006 7:49 AM

I spent a year doing an internship in Hartford, CONN, and lived with a little old lady who had twelve cats. Her house was across the street from the old house in Wethersfield (not Weatherford) where Yale University started at someone's kitchen table. Next door was a truck farm that had been there almost as long. The corn (Silver Queen was the big variation that year) was scrumptious and I did indeed go over to buy it after the water was boiling and ready -- but also I'd get snap beans to boil with bacon and tomatoes that actually tasted like tomatoes. Why can't we all eat like that all the time? How come we can launch a space ship but we can't grow local food everywhere?

Prairie Mary

Posted by: Mary Scriver on July 9, 2006 11:28 PM

Typewriter! :)

Posted by: Theresa on July 11, 2006 3:17 AM

Typewriter! Grazer! Juice sucker! Female!

Posted by: Gwinn on July 12, 2006 7:52 AM

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