One of the things I miss most about my dad is his wonderful and slightly quirky sense of humor. So naturally, I often think of my dad when I eat sweet corn.
My dad enjoyed sweet corn but he insisted it be fresh. Given the opportunity he would happily explain that as soon as the corn was picked the sugar in the kernels began to be converted to starch and that this conversion continued until the corn was cooked and the enzyme responsible for the conversion deactivated.
When I was a boy we had a small vegetable garden in the back yard. Spending time in the garden was a pleasant diversion for my dad and me. We grew all the usual things -- radishes, cucumbers, tomatoes and the like. We also grew a small amount of sweet corn.
We normally picked our vegetables and gave them to my mom to prepare for dinner, but for sweet corn my dad took over. When it was time to get some sweet corn my dad would first place a large pot of water on the stove and heat it to the boil. Then he and I would go out to the garden, pick and peel the corn, and head straight back into the kitchen and place the corn into the boiling water so that it was cooked as fresh as possible.
After I was grown and gone my folks moved to a new home at which they had no garden. Of course my dad still enjoyed sweet corn and sometimes bought it at a local farm stand where he thought it would be fresher.
One afternoon on the way home from work he thought he would like some corn with his dinner and so stopped at the farm stand and asked for fresh sweet corn.
"I have some right here. It was just picked this morning," said the farmer.
"This morning? Don't you have anything fresher?"
"Well, I have some here that I haven't put out yet. You can have some of that, Ben. It was just picked an hour ago."
"An hour ago? Don't you have anything fresher?"
By then the farmer was becoming just a bit annoyed with my dad and so took him out into the corn field which was just behind the farm stand. He began picking corn, turned and looked at my dad and said, "Okay, is this fresh enough for you, Ben?"
My dad looked at him, paused, and said, "I don't know. You're picking kind of slow."