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Sayonara to Summer.. and Cornby Julie Goldstein, Bull and Buddha

Popped in a pan, roasted in the oven, and grilled over an open flame: these are the favorite ways to enjoy a truly American culinary staple, a versatile grain—often cooked as a vegetable—with an extensive history. This plant of the grass family, cultivated and consumed for thousands of years, is of course maize, or as we call it, corn. As summer surrenders to autumn, we say goodbye to peaches, watermelon, tomatoes, and the beloved locally-grown corn. September is the last month in the Hudson Valley to appreciate the sweet ears that are indigenous to the Americas, so it is time to eat them up and hope for a good crop again next season.

The word Maize, which is said to be a descendant of teosinte and zea mays (two wild grasses first developed thousands of years ago and quite dissimilar in appearance to the corn we know today), translates to “that which sustains life”, a truly fitting name for the food that keeps feeding the world century after century. The grasses bred to develop our corn had tiny separated kernels unlike the plump compact kernels we are now familiar with. It is no feat of nature that corn has lasted throughout civilizations across the world and will continue to do so, it is solely a feat of man. The corn we have grown accustomed to today is not any easy-to-maintain plant; it takes attention, time, and sufficient water to produce a fruitful crop every year.

Before corn starch and corn oil were produced for the masses in our time, the Native Americans in the Hudson Valley, and elsewhere, also utilized corn in many inedible ways. Corn cobs were used for fuel, ceremonies, and games. Corn husks were woven into sleeping mats, masks, and moccasins; they were braided into baskets and dolls.

There are five chief types of corn, each of them with different textures, flavors, and uses. The vibrantly colored Indian corn we see today is primarily used for decorative pieces. Sweet corn, probably the most familiar type, can be eaten raw or cooked (this is also the variety that is often canned and frozen). Floury and Dent corns are typically used for industrial products, while Popcorn is in fact a distinguished type of Flint corn, beloved by many movie theatergoers.

However you enjoy corn (the Incas would make a corn beer called chica), the best time to consume it when it is fresh, local, and just picked, before the sugars convert to starch and the flavor is depleted. So as summer comes to an end, we shall savor the last few fresh kernels, freeze our soups, and look forward to another season of sweet corn next year.

Bull and Buddha’s new brunch menu includes these fluffy corn fritters, which can either be sweet when soaked with maple syrup, or savory when grated cheese is added to the batter. Try them at home, or better yet, try them with unlimited champagne cocktails at brunch at Bull and Buddha.

What you need-
6 cups oil, for frying
2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. white sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup milk
2 tbsp. butter, melted
4 ears of sweet corn, kernels only

Heat the oil in a deep pot to about 350°F. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Beat together egg, milk, and melted butter in separate bowl and stir into flour mixture. Mix in the corn kernels. Drop fritter batter by spoonfuls into the hot oil, and fry until golden. Drain on paper towels and serve with a favorite dipping sauce.

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