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Popcorn on the Cob

December 10, 2012

I was torn between two ledes for this: Now this is fresh popcorn. Or, here's yet more esoterica from a farmers' market. Both work because this ear was picked in October and dried in a greenhouse. And nothing you could buy in a supermarket could compare. Everybody, I know, gets sick of hearing about the advantages of local food, but popcorn is one of the more obscure examples of why it's superior. The kernels pop up fluffier and taste less musty than even the good stuff like Newman's Own, which has been on the shelf for who knows how long. Jeff Bialas, who sold us this jewel-like ear, said popcorn is a special type of corn with a larger, sturdier hull that absorbs more steam until it literally explodes. I always assumed his ears could only be popped in a microwave, but he showed us how to fleck off the kernels. About a third of an ear produced about the same quantity for which a movie theater would charge $7. Friday was his last day for the season at our neighborhood market, but he was thinking about selling popcorn by mail over the winter. Which is a trend for another day: How farmers are extending the season with "value-added" products.

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