My summer changed yesterday. It actually changes today, but yesterday things… just… changed. I’ve been bouncing through my summer, and like I said yesterday, summer has been flying by. I haven’t been even remotely aware of the summer changing even that was unfolding right before my eyes. I’d drive by this slowly metamorphosizing event daily and yet I didn’t even pay it the slightest bit of attention. Last night I was driving home, say, around 5:30, when I saw a giant ear of corn standing guard on the corner of Highway 67 and North Walworth Road. This painted ear of corn was as tall as me, and like a fish to a lure, the bright colors pulled my eyes in to where I could focus on a small sign that read simply, “Open Tuesday”.
It’s been proven that lusting over sweet corn while driving is 300% more dangerous than texting while driving, which we all know is apparently 1100% more dangerous than drinking while driving, and only slightly less dangerous than operating a chainsaw while driving. I drove by Pearce’s Farm Stand last night, and in an instant, my summer changed. For the much, much, better. One of the greatest indulgences that I have marked in vivid green ink on my culinary calendar is the return of Pearce’s Sweet Corn. You’re darn right I capitalized it. It’s not just the return of sweet corn that I anticipate, for any old sweet corn can be bought at your neighborhood Jewel or out of the back of untold numbers of pick up trucks parked on your route home, it’s the sweet corn that is born from the fields of Walworth Township- fields that grow these robust ears of edible gold.
Today, the farm stand is opened. It will be open through the end of October, and the changes in produce available will reflect whatever is ripe and harvested that very day. And when it’s harvested, Mr. Pearce or one of his sons or grandsons, or his wife, will hitch an old wood wagon to a tractor, and pull the bounty direct from the field to the modest covered farm stand, where it should then be purchased and brought to your own table. This procedure is a glorious benefit to owning a Lake Geneva vacation home, and it’s a summer time ritual so intertwined with the soul of my family that it’s hard to tell what’s more important- the utopic days of July and August, or the sweet corn that those long summer days ripen.
The corn this year is flat out ridiculous. The old saying that applies to corn growth, “knee high by the fourth of July” was made obsolete this year. Instead, I fashioned a quick adjustment of the saying, and declared 2010 the year of corn that would be “neck high by the first of July”. The corn currently towers above my car as I drive down North Walworth Road towards my house. It is magnificent, and anyone visiting or vacationing in the Lake Geneva area this year needs to stop and grab a few dozen ears of this very particular, insanely tasty corn. The ears weigh 11 pounds each, and some are the size of my entire arm, and measure as wide as they are long – and that’s a fact.
No it isn’t. But the ears are quite large. And tasty. So tasty in fact that if I were a restaurant within 100 miles of this farm stand, I’d have the good sense to arrange for Pearce’s Sweet Corn to be featured on my menu as long as it remains ripe. I’ve made Rick Bayless aware of Pearce’s corn. I promised him that it was a corn so delicious that his dishes that include corn would be immediately elevated to best-dish-ever status. Unfortunately, Rick ignored me. He ignores me often, particularly when I try desperately to convince him of the many splendors of a Lake Geneva vacation home. I’ll Twitter him again on both my corn and vacation home idea, but chances are, he’ll leave the tastiest corn ever ordained by God and consumed by man to be eaten at my dinner table, and if you’re around Lake Geneva this summer, at yours.
If you wish to indulge your corn loving self, it’s best to wait until the end of July to do so. I’m not sure when the corn will be ready, but chances are we’re still a few weeks away from the cream of the crop. I’m going to see about leaving my magazines out at Pearce’s, so if you make the trip- no matter if it’s down the road or if it involves the Edens- be sure to pick up a copy of the magazine along with your corn. Entertaining your friends and family lakeside by preparing a meal made of entirely local ingredients isn’t something that should only be enjoyed by Ina Garten. You can enjoy this sort of life too, if only you’d come to Lake Geneva. Land of milk and honey, clear water and white piers, and sweet corn so sweet and delicious that it might as well be candy.