Walk into any grocery store in Ontario on any day of the year and you’ll be able to purchase just about any fruit or vegetable, regardless of our natural climate or the season you’re in. Avocados on Easter? Sure. Strawberries at Halloween? You got it. And while I am grateful to be able to make guacamole whenever I want, I do recognize that this is not a naturally occurring practice, just I recognize that chocolate dipped strawberries on Valentine’s Day are a lovely gesture, but they aren’t exactly the most flavourful of indulgences in the thick of Winter. All that said, there are certain foods I hold strong to when it comes to the season in which I make my purchase, and while in the past I have been (rightfully) criticized for buying corn on the cob at a time when corn on the cob should not be on the shelves, I have long since learned from my mistakes, and I practice patience for this: the perfect time of year to start binging.
Living where we do in Ontario, most of us get to enjoy observing those vast farmers friends grow from seed to stalk with the most anticipatory of feelings deep down in our bellies; it’s a pretty marvellous thing to watch across the 8-12 weeks that it takes for the process to complete. My drive to and from work each day takes me down country roads, adorned with little fruit and vegetable stands; small, independently owned stations setup with cash boxes that operate on the good old fashioned honour system. Every day I drive by in anticipation of what they might be offering; it’s a clear indicator of what the best tasting produce is going to be, and a great way get inspired by local. Be it potatoes, asparagus, pumpkins, berries, or, of course – fresh corn, I’ve always got a few dollars at the ready as I eagerly boot along the dusty road, fingers crossed that today will be the day I get to bring home my first dozen of that sweet, delicious, fleeting, late-summer treat.
When I do finally get my hands on the good stuff, preparation is where many other inspiring ideas come to play. Of course, I will not shy away from slathering on copious amounts of butter and salt, but depending on what is being accompanied, there are many other interesting ways in which to dress up my side dish. Lime, parmesan and chill. Mayo, paprika, and feta. Fresh herbs in a compound butter. Grilled and wrapped in bacon. The possibilities are endless, so don’t get stuck on thinking you can only do it one way! The same goes for how you choose to cook these beauties – steam ’em, boil ’em, grill ’em, whatever floats your boat! It may not be the vegetable renowned for its nutrients, but it is certainly one of the more fun foods to eat, and damn is it delicious.
Corn isn’t the only thing I look forward to this time of year – there are so many lovely flavours to explore in Ontario as the months roll on, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t call on the peaches to help round out my summer meal plan. Put them in a salsa, grill them with a little cinnamon, or bake them in a pie, once again there are countless ways to enjoy fresh, Ontario peaches, though nothing quite beats sitting on the back porch on a hot sunny day and simply biting into one…or seven.
Going to the grocery store is always a fun experience for me – it’s my toy store, after all (though I do wish they also sold Lego..could save me having to make two stops all the time), but there is something truly special to be said for avoiding the lineups at the register and venturing out to you local farmers market, or stopping on the side of the road to pick up whatever is truly fresh and in season. And while I do appreciate all of the seasons for each of their unique reasons, August, for me, is a powerhouse of a month to enjoy. It’s like a confluence of all these wonderful flavours happen for such a short window, and I have a responsibility to maximize that opportunity. Perhaps I overindulge as a result, but, just as Christmas comes only once a year, the anticipation for it is just so exciting, and, well, corn on the cob season is really no different.