Corn & Tomato Salad

When I was a kid my father* was married to a woman, Nancy, whose family owned a farm in Kentucky. In summers when I would visit my father and his wife in Ohio or North Dakota or wherever the hell they lived, we would sometimes go to Kentucky to Nancy’s family farm. They were dairy farmers, but they had a pretty respectably sized corn field, as well as some other crops.

I was a loner as a child and fairly shy – some things never change, though I’m more shy now than I was then – and preferred to spend a lot of my time reading or drawing. Being in Kentucky around all of Nancy’s nieces and nephews and cousins my age was no different. With all those other kids running around, my favorite way to spend the day was with a book. It didn’t take me long to find two favorite places to read. The first was up in the hay loft in the barn. The cows were down below, making their soft, happy cow noises as they munched on their feed and went about their day. The smell of manure drifted up, but mostly the loft just smelled like sweet, clean hay. I would sprawl up there for hours, reading, daydreaming, and watching the hay dust dance in the motes of sunlight that slanted into the loft.

The hay loft only worked for morning, though. By afternoon, it was hot and stuffy in there and I was driven out to my second favorite spot: the corn field. For those of you who are city or suburb people, like me, let me tell you that there’s a surprisingly large amount of space bewteen corn rows. Even knowing that I’m still surprised about how much room there is and that you can walk between the rows. When the heat kicked me out of the barn, I’d take my book and meander through the corn rows for a while until I found a spot that felt just right. Then I would just sit myself down right in the dirt between the rows and start reading again. The sunlight filtering green and gold through the leaves on the corn stalks delighted me, and it was shadowy and cool in there. Once, an enormous luna moth landed about 3 feet away from me. It was huge and beautiful and I pretended it was a corn fairy.

One thing I really liked about the corn field was the corn itself. If it was ripe, sometimes I’d grab an ear right off the stalk, shuck it, and eat it raw in the field. It was sweet and crisp and warm from the sun, and one of the most delicious things I’d ever tasted. I still love raw corn fresh off the cob, and when I cut the kernels off the cob for a salad like this corn and tomato salad, I always gnaw on the cob a little to taste the sweet yumminess left behind after most of the kernels are off.

This is a simple salad, and not really so much a recipe. Just cut the kernels off some corn cobs and slice some cherry or grape tomatoes in half. Toss them together with some finely chopped red onion, and drizzle the whole lot with some good olive oil and a little balsamic vinegar. Add some salt and pepper. Eat it. Love it.

Some fresh herbs would be a lovely addition. Basil, or rosemary.

If you’ve a mind to cook it, sauteeing the corn, tomatoes, and onion would bring out even more sweetness. Let them cool and then dress with the olive oil and vinegar. That would be lovely. And delicious.

We had this, uncooked, last night as an accompaniment to cheeseburgers** and I put some on a sandwich today. I wanted something cool and crunchy on my sandwich, like a pickle, but since we had no pickles in the house, I used this salad, and I don’t regret it. It was oh so mess, but oh so delicious.

* I use this word here now only to simplify matters, though at the time in my life I’m talking about, I did still call him “Daddy” and think of him as my father. Now I call him my sperm donor most of the time and my father none of the time.

** No, the cats did not has cheezburgers.


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