Magazine article Newsweek

Feeding Frenzy

Magazine article Newsweek

Feeding Frenzy

Article excerpt

Byline: Julia Reed

A few weeks ago, I was leaving my parents' house in Mississippi when I saw my normally fairly composed mother in the rearview mirror, running down the driveway wild-eyed, carrying an armload of corn. "Wait, wait, you have to take these. Please take them with you, please."

Now, I am crazy about corn, but during my four-day visit I had already consumed corn pudding, succotash (twice: once with corn and tomatoes and okra, and again with corn and baby limas), corn "fried" in bacon grease in an iron skillet, and, of course, corn on the cob (boiled and grilled, but also zapped in its husks in a microwave for a minute or so, a procedure that not only instantly steams the corn but makes it easier to remove the silks).

Still, the second refrigerator reserved for farm-stand binges and the generosity of our neighbors remained full of the stuff. I let her throw the ears in the back seat and when I got home five hours later I went to work immediately, scraping the kernels off the cob and sauteeing them in olive oil with the chives and mint that had taken over my herb garden in my absence.

Welcome to the tyranny of summer produce. Depending on where you are, by August or early September squash is falling off the vine, birds are after the figs, tomatoes and blueberries are bursting, peaches and plums shriveling. Then there are the herbs: parsley and dill are going to seed; basil and tarragon and mint are becoming impossibly leggy. The pressure to keep up with it all is just too much--and so is the guilt.

"It gets to the point where the folks selling the tomatoes at the farmers' market are like, 'Just take them--we don't even want any money,'a" says Stephen Stryjewski, chef and co-owner of New Orleans's Cochon restaurant. Last summer he took so many, he ended up making 10 gallons of ketchup he still doesn't know what to do with. …

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