Tuesday, May 26, 2009

On the Goodness of Fresh Sweet Corn

If you aren't familiar with Garrison Keillor, well then I just feel sorry for you. Keillor is the host of the biweekly two hour radio variety show called, "A Praire Home Companion". PHC is a mix of everything that is good about American culture, in the folksy Americana sense. It always makes me feel like televisions don't exist and the highest form of entertainment, other than listening to Red Barber broadcast Brooklyn Dodgers games of course, is to sit in front of a big box radio and listen to folk music and story-telling.

Keillor is most famous for his hometown, Lake Wobegon, Minnesota, which doesn't exist. The stories of Lake Wobegon, normally told during the "News from Lake Wobegon" portion of PHC, is modern American mythology. It's great stuff, partly because no one (not even Vin Scully) has a better voice for radio than Garrison Keillor, and partly because no one (not even Vin Scully) tells a story so well.

Well anyway, Keillor wrote a couple books of Wobegon stories told, which my Dad tells me are not that good compared to his radio stuff. Maybe so, but this is a hilarious little piece from the preface of Keillor's Leaving Home, titled "A Letter from Copenhagen":
Sweet corn was our family's weakness. We were prepared to resist atheistic Communism, immoral Hollywood, hard liquor, gambling and dancing, smoking, fornication, but if Satan had come around with sweet corn, we at least would have listened to what he had to sell. We might not have bought it but we would've had him in and given him a cup of coffee. It was not amazing to learn in eighth-grade science that corn is sexual, each plant containing both genders, male tassel and female flower, propagating in our garden after dark. Sweet corn was so delicious, what could have produced it except sex? Sunday after church, when the pot roast was done and the potatoes were boiled and mashed and a pot of water was boiling- only then would Dad run out with a bushel basket and pick thirty ears of corn. We shucked it clean in five seconds per ear and popped it in the pot for a few minutes. A quick prayer, a little butter and salt, and that is as good as it gets. People have searched the world over for something better and didn't find it because it's not there. There's nothing better, not even sex. People have wanted to be as good as sweet corn and have worked hard to improve it, and afterward they lay together in the dark, and said, 'Det var dejligt.' ('That was so wonderful.') 'Ja, det var.' 'Men det var ikke saa godt som frisk mais.' ('But it wasn't as good as fresh sweet corn.') 'Ney.'


Bill Faris said...

Sweet post on sweet corn. Keillor still speaks to me 30 years after I first heard that wonderful, resonant voice and bought my first Powder Milk Biscuits t-shirt.

BTW: check out my trades with Johnnie on your other blogsite

Anonymous said...

speaking of...

have you read this


Rachael W said...

In regards not to this post, but to previous posts and your sidebar: I think my favorite thing about your blog is the way you write about Britt.

My stalking of the Farises (is that the proper plural of your name? I feel like you should be Farisi, homophone of Pharisee) is now full circle.