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May 28, 2009

How to eat corn on the cob

ccob%20frenzy%20fx.jpgI admit my title for this fine Funtastic Thursday is completely misleading, but I wanted to lure in all those new people who commented on How to Butter Corn. This is actually a pretty accurate description of how I eat corn on the cob -- I just didn't realize how scary it was. Here's guest poster Owl Meat. EL

I spent a lot of time at my friend Jimmy's house when I was about six or seven.  Jimmy's father Woody had a barber shop in the front of the house.  It was the place to be.  He had grass in his tiny row house yard and a finished basement with a record player, a drum set, and his father's ancient Elvis Presley records.  Not the good ones, but effluvial soundtracks like "Clambake" and "Speedway."   That was the music from the late '60s that I got to hear?  What a rip-off. ...

Woody's Barber Shop was part Afterworld waiting room and part torture chamber (in my mind).  It was strewn with lurky old men reading girlie magazines and whittling the past into trinkets of regret and resignation.  The glinting steel cutting tools and buzzing electric razors layered menace upon torpor.  Every spring before school ended, my father would drag me there to get sheared like a Paschal lamb. 

Woody closed the shop and had family supper around 3:30 p.m.  One day Jimmy's mother called over to my mother and asked if I could stay for supper.  Approved.  I don't remember what exactly was served that day, because I was about to be dazzled by the most amazing demonstration of corn-on-the-cob eating ever. 

Corn on the cob in my home had the accoutrements of civilized commoners: manners, plastic cob-shaped cob holders, and the prohibition from wolfing down food.  We wouldn't want people to think we were immigrants after all.
Woody sat at the kitchen table with his back to the sink.  Jimmy's mother placed a sparkling metal tray on the table stacked with corn.  Woody smiled, smoothed his shiny black hair, took a deep breath, and then tore into a cob like Grendel in a petting zoo. 

He was a biting-chewing machine going left to right, swallowing, no, gulping, then like a typewriter carriage return, DING, next row.  Before I could fully digest the scene, he finished the cob, pause-swallowed, exhaled, and tossed the cob over his shoulder into the sink. DING.  Woody continued his conquest of the corn, the Great Berserker of 11th Street, the Master Masticator, devouring, inhaling, dominating the peasantry of Cornville, destroying all conventional notions of etiquette and possibly time itself.  He was the Tasmanian Devil of the Cob.
After the Beast within had been sated and the sink was littered with the bones of his destruction, Woody leaned back with a sense of accomplishment and asked, "Who wants Jell-O?"  Woody loved cherry red Jell-O with Cool Whip, and he always had room for Jell-O.
Because of his barberous butcher's tools, Woody the Barber terrified me.  Woody the Eater was the embodiment of animal desire and gluttony, like a Viking on shore leave.  Somehow this gnashing noshing shiny beast, this King of the Chews, this cob-gobblin' eating machine was oddly comforting.  Perhaps it was fun to see the Torquemada of the shears devour something other than the top of my skull.
Whether someone eats corn slow or fast, around and around or across, it's impossible not to think of Woody the Barber.  DING. 

(Photo credit: Getty Images)

Posted by Elizabeth Large at 11:59 AM | | Comments (51)


Nice work, Owl. I may never think of eating corn the same way again.

But, Woody the Barber was right. There's always room for jello.

I always think of Tom Hanks eating the baby corn in Big.

Corn always has an even number of rows. I know people who make sure to count the rows and eat an even number of rows in each bite (ie they bite four rows tall at a time). It makes eating corn a little... mathematical.

Does Fibonacci figure into any of this?

As usual, great post! Laughing out loud here at work.

I remember that scene too, pretty funny.

The typewriter reference was inspired, Owl. Reminded me of my corn chewing days before dental work dinged my corn-o-copious consumption. Somehow, a sharp knife scraping off niblets down the side of the cob isn't nearly as satisfying. Thanks for another time-warp back to your checkered past.

I'm sure a psychologist would have a field day with my imagery.

I do the 4-rows per bite thing. I'm very particular about my corn, but only because I love it so much and I've found for me, it's the best way to savor it. And I can't stand those corn-butter things where you put a pat of butter into the little hand held cage and rub it on the corn. That never delivers nearly enough butter. You need to slather it on with a butter knife. I really love corn.

There's always room for Fibonacci

Alas, we may never know if young Owlie had the guts to grab one of those cobs from the Magnifcent Omnivore's gaping maw!

Who would think I would grow up to laugh out at a joke with Fibonacci in it? Brava, qzans warrior princess.

P.S. I think TL went back to his cave

Owlie, how can you knock Clambake? Elvis plays a scientist in that. Man did he have acting range. Nothing like that one trick pony Tracy Morgan.

Were't Paschal lambs slaughtered, not sheared?

Owl Meat GlintingSteel,


Slight swerve here. In the 70s we had friends from New Zealand who went to France for a couple of years of study. They really missed the corn on the cob they had enjoyed in the U.S. They could see corn growing, but it was considered animal food only. They perfected a little charade with their toddler which involved pulling the car over to the side of the road and urging little Tony to "go," while the other parent snuck into the cornfields to grad enough ears for dinner.

That should be "grab," not "grad." Too much time in academia ...

Even as a small owl I was confused by the cob-shaped corn holders. I mean if you could hold the plastic corn, why couldn't you hold the end of the actual corn, symbolically speaking. No one understood me.

Paschal Lambs are sheared then slaughtered. See my concern?

Catholic fear starts early

Lissa -- since the Paschal Lamb is meant to be eaten (at least in Judaism at Passover), I think that shearing prior to slaughtering would be advisable.

After the paschal lamb, no dessert shall be taken, including corn.

Actually, no corn during passover, hence the no corn syrup coca cola with yellow cap

This must have happened before my parents got the summer cottage since it happened in the city in the summer. There was a cornfield next to the cottage but it was whatg we called cow corn, not so tasty and tender. Actually that pasture rotated from year to year between dairy cows and corn.

Spend your summers in the city and you get to see the Magnificent Omnivore. Spend them in the country and you get to see a farmer deliver a breech calf. I'll spare you the details, let's just say it's messy.

Don't mind me, I'm just reconstructing my past.

RoCK, that doesn't apply to the Sephardim.

RoCK, not Sephardim - they can have corn, rice and beans. Which is why I've decided that I am in fact, Sephardic.

Clambake is one of my favorite movie titles just because there is no clambake in the movie.

You related to Jean Shepherd???

The astronaut?


The humorist, writer

Jean Shepherd,
the guy that wrote a collection of short stories that became a movie called "A Christmas Story" that TBS plays ad nauseum during the Christmas season. I think they play it for 24-hour stretches sometimes.

Don't get me wrong, the original collection of short stories (In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash) was excellent and had me in tears I laughed so hard. I've read it several times, but not in a long time. And the movie that resulted from it, combining all the short stories into a single Christmas tale, was very good. Its just that its played so much, its played out.

(Ralphie, you'll shoot your eye out!)

Kinda like most Led Zep music on the classic rock stations down here.

OMG what can I say? I had to keep stopping while reading to get tissues to wipe away my tears. My dog thinks I've COMPLETELY lost my mind now. Please write a book....I wouldn't need the prozac anymore. Thanks for the memories!


The corn cob holders were so you could hold the extremely hot cob while you burnt you mouth with too hot corn.


I was thinking the same thing. I first read the Shepherd pieces in Playboy in the 60's maybe early 70"s. I just bought Playboy for the articles.

To this day, I have trouble thinking of corn-on-the-cob and manners as being largely incompatible.

It's the unsightly partly-eaten cob, and the assured between-the-teeth fibers that usually get me.

If served cob, I'm usually given to strip the cob with my knife before eating with a fork for precisely those reasons. There are venues for eating right off the cob, sure. But if given utensils, I say use 'em.

Owl, the mental picture of Woody at the corn trough is devastatingly funny! Well done!!

MAG, I miss eating corn on the cob, too. To compensate--sort of--I make the corn pudding recipe in Joy of Cooking. If your arteries can stand it, it's a paragon of corn-ness, especially with a bit of tarragon.

The Harris Teeter in Columbia had yellow corn today. Yay.

I tried to post this about 5 hoirs ago...

Oh. I try not to imitate anyone or compare myself to anyone. I have very little self-awareness. I just crank on whatever mood I'm in. I leave any textual considerations to the far more qualified Bourbon Girl. She's a natural critic and editor.

Thanks everyone for the warm reception. It's just a lot of fluff but what else do I do? I''m a little tired from getting up at 5 to write it.

And the moral is ... little boys with bad haircuts grow up to be Owl Meat.

What next? Prom pictures? [evil laugh]

Remember world:

Every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not of the sitter.
~ Oscar Wilde

No prom pix. I have pictures too, AC. Let's not turn this into a game of mutually assured destruction.

Maybe next will be some amusing anecdotes about my step-sister. B>)

I thought Jean Shepherd was a woman. But if you pronounce it Zhaan Shuh-pard itmakes more sense. Love a Christmas Story. I've never read anything by him but I vaguely remember him doing some humourous bits on the radio when I was a wee lad.

Jean Shepherd was Live from the Limelight Room Sunday nights on WOR. When my family was coming back from a day's outing we'd listen to him. His stories were exactly like Christmas Story with the same characters. He always referred to his father as the old man and talked about that gun a lot.

Did he pronounce his name like a French Canadian? Why did I get that idea? He was from Chicago. Oh my brain hurts.

Did he pronounce his name like a French Canadian?

For years, I knew without giving it any thought that his name was spelled Gene like the Eugenes in my elementary school. I was older and laughing my socks off at In God We Trust All Others Pay Cash when I recognized the characters and realized that Jean Shepherd on the cover was the radio guy and not the honky tonk (woman) singer.

Jerry Seinfeld said he got his whole idea of comedy from Jean Shepherd and named his first child Shepherd

Oh my. This enthiusiam for eating maize on the stalk like livestock perplexes me. Perhaps Bonbon Girl could come over to the Manor and demonstrate this most American silliness. And bring your bean bags. If necessary Vivian and Beverley could baby sit your twelve children. Ta.

Slow your roll Lord Marmaduke or you'll get a beating from me that you won't enjoy.


OMG, it seems there is no beating Lord Twee and Fey wouldn't enjoy

Do you have anything else?

You could play Scriabin at him.


Don't be a sad BG. I love the detemined little girl look you get when you play that. I just don't think it would be in his taste. Don't be a Don't BG, do be a Do BG.

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About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

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