Harley Hay

Harley Hay: Embrace the omni-present wonderfulness of corn

OK, this week I’m going to get a little corny. So what, I can hear you saying, your random ramblings and rants are pretty much always corny. True that may be, but this time – a-maize-ingly – I’m really all about corn. My ears are practically ringing with the thought of cob-ling together a column about corn. Something that has a kernel of truth in it, perhaps. Aw, shucks, what’s all this stalk about corn?

You see, as one often does, I was thinking about corn the other day – which as you know is also called “maize” which is a Spanish word meaning “delicious yellow stuff” – because I happened to be munching on a cob of maize that I had actually made my own self. That is to say I put some pre-made cobs into some boiling water for five minutes with lots of salt in the water and also a spoonful of sugar which is a secret recipe given to me by Mrs. Marks, a 99 year old friend from Kelowna, B.C. I was pretty proud of myself that I had actually made something eatable other than toast or Kraft Dinner.

And later that evening the Better Half and I shared a favourite nearly-nightly ritual – some TV and popcorn – mine with butter and salt, hers sans le beurre (on the popcorn not the TV) and I found myself going – hey! Corn again! (The TV wasn’t very interesting so I began thinking about corn.)

Corn is everywhere. According to the interweb where all things are true corn is 10,000 years old and is a world-wide staple food with the total production of maize “surpassing that of wheat or rice.” Isn’t that a-maize-ing?! (Sorry, one too many.)

And here’s the thing: a whole whack of corn we consume doesn’t even look remotely like an ear of corn, or a cob, or a kernel for that matter. For example, take Corn Flakes – I know I do. Or Corn Pops. Corn syrup. Corn starch. Corn chips. I could go on, and often do, but the point is, corn is hiding everywhere.

When you have a bag of potato chips, the chips look very much like a shaving from a potato. Ice cream is obviously a clever combination of ice and cream, and everybody knows that chocolate is a creation of the magic fudge fairies from heaven, but who knew that Cheezies are made from corn?!

I mention this whenever I get a chance, so this may not be the first time you’ve heard this from me, but for a long time I was extremely curious as to what I was eating whenever I munched on some Hawkins Cheezies (which often was surprisingly often). So one day I finally did some extensive research consisting of reading a short article that said that Cheezies are made from extruded cornmeal. Wow, I said to myself: ‘These Cheezies are good, I’m glad they are Canadian’. Oh, and also: “Cornmeal??”

OK, cornmeal. But did you know that corn is in drywall, glue, cosmetics, gum, Windex, vanish, toothpaste, Aspirin, licorice and diapers? And that’s only shucking the surface.

Back in the day, we used corn as an excuse to meet girls. A buddy who doesn’t want to be identified but whose initials are K.I.R.K. came up with the idea of having a corn roast party at his parents’ acreage. Even though the entire pit full of foil wrapped corn yielded blackened uneatable cobs, nobody cared because it was an epic event with many attractive girls attending. So – thank you, corn!

So should we all embrace the omni-present wonderfulness of corn? Maize well. But be careful you don’t swallow a whole corn cob. You might get corn-stipated.

Harley Hay is a Red Deer author and filmmaker. Send him a column idea at harleyhay1@hotmail.com.