The Gallivanting Gourmand
Greg Duncan
Greg Duncan
is a freelance writer based in the Montreal region. He is particularly keen about good food. In his day job, Greg is the executive director of the Quebec Community Newspapers Association.

His previous columns are archived HERE.

Posted 09.09.03


Quebec is as corny as it gets

Here in Quebec, eating corn on the cob is a ritual. Huge gatherings are planned around the annual harvest and shucking begins. The thing is, you've got to get it on the fire or in the pot before all those sweet sugars turn to so much starch. Same-day picking and eating is the rule of thumb and once you have plowed through a pile or one of those large green net bags of the stuff, you have to figure out what to do with the rest.

No problem. There are more things to do with corn than any other vegetable it seems. Chowder, shepherds pie, fritters, or simply cutting it off the cob and freezing it for another day are all good reasons to get the gold while the gold is shiny.

No matter how you enjoy it, corn is good. Peaches and cream good. Here are a few quotes from another era describing corn virtues and challenges. "It is not elegant to gnaw Indian corn. The kernels should be scored with a knife, scraped off into the plate, and then eaten with a fork. Ladies should be particularly careful how they manage so ticklish a dainty, lest the exhibition rub off a little desirable romance." -- Charles Day, 1844

"Corn provided infant America with a backbone while it was developing the use of its legs. America was growing, quite literally, up the cornstalk." -- Dorothy Giles, Singing Valleys: The Story of Corn

"The greatest drawback is the way in which it is necessary to eat corn. It looks awkward enough: but what is to be done? Surrendering such a vegetable from considerations of grace is not to be thought of." -- Harriet Martineau, an Englishwomen, on corn on the cob (1835)

I say, grab a cob with both hands and gnaw away. If your teeth won't allow, make this wonderful soup.

Curried Corn and Shrimp Soup

2 cups chicken broth
2 medium-size tart apples (peeled, cored and chopped)
1 large onion (chopped)
1/2 tsp curry powder
1 large red bell pepper (stemmed and seeded)
4 cups cold buttermilk
1/4-cup limejuice
1 1/2 cups cooked corn kernels
1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro
1/3 lb. tiny cooked shrimp
Cilantro Sprigs (optional)

In a 4- to 5- quart pan over high heat combine broth, apples, onion, and curry powder. Cover and bring to a boil, then simmer until apples mash easily (about 30 min). Let cool, then cover and chill until cold, at least 3 hours or up to a day. Smoothly puree mixture in a blender or food processor.

Cut a few thin slivers from bell pepper and set aside; dice remaining pepper and put into a tureen with apple puree, buttermilk, limejuice, 1 1/4 cups of corn and minced cilantro. Ladle soup into bowls and top with shrimp, remaining corn, bell pepper strips, and cilantro sprigs.