Friday Bread Basket 9/16/22
Corn Week Finale
Welcome to the Wordloaf Friday Bread Basket, a weekly roundup of links and items relating to bread, baking, and grain. Corn Week comes to a close here at Wordloaf with a link to this excellent overview of designer and artist Steve Frykholm’s amazing Herman Miller Picnic posters, my favorite of which is the sweet corn one pictured above.
I’m no fan of South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, but I appreciate her naming Tariq the Corn Kid her state’s first Corn-ambassador and bringing him and his family there for the ceremony:
Katlyn Svendsen of the South Dakota Department of Tourism told NPR that the Corn-bassador and his family traveled from New York to attend an honorary ceremony at the state's Corn Palace in Mitchell, S.D.
"As part of naming Tariq a South Dakota Corn-bassador, we wanted Tariq and his family to experience a combination of South Dakota's two largest industries, tourism and agriculture," Svendsen said.
She said Tariq couldn't believe his eyes when he saw the palace made of corn. "It's a dream come true!" he said.
I’m happy for Tariq and his family, though I hope all the fame and fortune the 7-year old has received remain only a positive in his life.
I love my tabletop flour mill, but the one thing I wish it could do that it cannot is mill unpopped popcorn, since it is too hard for the stones to grind without damaging them. This is too bad, because milled popcorn makes excellent polenta, cornbread, and corn breads (impact mills like a Nutrimill or Wondermill can mill popcorn, and I used to make it with one all the time).
But you can “mill” popcorn after it has been popped into a sort of corn flour using a food processor, And, as this Taste story by Scott Hocker details, popcorn flour has an interesting history:
This popcorn-flour notion came from historical events, not Jackson’s brain. During World War II, President Harry S. Truman insisted that bakers use less wheat in their loaves because the grain was scarce. Enter popcorn flour, which was easy to source and a fine complement to the limited wheat supply. Popcorn flour became so beloved that it continued being used in loaves even after wartime—until a bad popcorn crop happened. Trends come; trends go. Just ask avocado toast. Remember him?
Defund the Sandwich Police
Tomato sandwiches are one of my favorite ways to eat peak-season tomatoes. In fact, I just had two of them on some crisp-toasted slices of my Corn, Corn, Corn Bread, with corn butter and mayo on the bread and Parmesan cheese and olive oil on the toms. And chances are I’ll have another one later today, because neither the corn bread nor the tomatoes are going to be around forever.
Earlier this summer, writer Geraldine DeRuiter tweeted (and later deleted): “I’m sorry, food Twitter but a ‘tomato sandwich’ is not a sandwich, you just don’t have the ingredients to make a BLT.” Obviously, a statement like that has only one purpose—to provoke ire among tomato sandwich lovers—and is best simply ignored, like so much else on Twitter. Of course I, like thousands of others, could not follow this advice and told her off (politely, if testily, in my case).
Rebecca May Johnson—whose new book Small Fires I love—used the tweet and its aftermath as an occasion to muse eloquently on the subject of culinary “rules” and how they only serve to keep us from the joys and solaces of the kitchen:
As wildly varying photos of “tomato sandwiches” flooded my timeline, I asked myself: what is a sandwich? Of course, the fun is in the fact that any new rule I might make about the definition of a sandwich will provoke the creation of other rules by other people. Arguably, a sandwich is a site for the pure play of rules, where the only basis for rule-making anyone need observe is: do I like it? Even if there is a long embedded rule about how to make a sandwich, it is inevitable that each person who enacts this tradition will intervene with their own revised understanding, their own palate, shaped by their own situation in life.
However, here I go with, at the very least, an opinion about sandwiches that I might even call sandwich theory. What I like about sandwiches is how the bread operates as a structure that “holds” us and gives space to our needs at different times. When I am feeling in need of comfort: cheddar, butter and my mother’s lemon and pear chutney. If I want to teleport the feeling of being at a greasy spoon: fried egg and ketchup, with a cup of strong tea as an extension of the sandwich, sipped in between bites. To relive the memory of being in Barcelona with my friend Zoë: boiled egg and sliced raw tomato with salt and pepper.
That’s it for this week’s Friday Bread Basket. I hope you all have a peaceful, corn-and-tomato-filled weekend, the last one of summer here in the Northern Hemisphere.