Thursday, July 7, 2011

Getting Corny

Ok, I know I am probably overextending my recent focus on foods of Nepal (and I haven't even begun showcasing street food and other authentic Nepali delicacies). I cannot help but share one more this week.

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There is nothing bizarre or exotic about eating corn. In fact, the habit is downright American judging by the ingredients list on any given grocery product and the amount of corn we consume in various forms (this is not really a good thing, but I will leave that subject to the expert Michael Pollan). Here in Kathmandu they evidently love corn as well. So much so that you can find stands selling it by the cup as a snack at your local grocery store or mall.

Again, Americans do not have much of a leg to stand on when it comes to selling odd things from stands. A visit to your local county or state fair will give you all the proof you need. If it can fit on a stick, an American will skewer it, batter it, deep fry it, and serve it from a stand to children as "food." Things that are deep fried and eaten in the great United States of America: Twinkies, cheesecake, bacon, alligator, Oreos, spaghetti, camel (yes, camel), Coca-Cola, cookie dough, and butter (yes, butter).

In all fairness, I once went to an Oktoberfest celebration on a family vacation to Wisconsin (again, the glamour) and was served fresh, un-fried corn on the cob. Yet, I have a vivid memory of my cob being dunked entirely in a vat of melted butter before being handed to me at the ripe age of seven. I then coated it in salt that was housed in a glass jar shaker hanging on a string for public access. There may or may not have been a line waiting to get to those salt shakers. I thought the corn was great...until I discovered deep-fried cheese curds.

In light of American snack tastes, seeing a Nepali get a cup of corn at the mall should not be such a shocking occurrence. But compared to foods I see at American malls, including corn dogs and Dippin' Dots ice cream ("The ice cream of the future."), a cup of corn seems odd or at least different. Kids here run around the mall chowing on corn or begging their parents to let them have some. Not a scene I can recall witnessing in the States. "Just one more broccoli floret, mom, pleeeeease!"

Of course, I had to try some Cup Corn, if just for the novelty of the un-popped, un-fried corn snack.

My choices of flavors were Original (salt and margarine), Pepper (crushed pepper, salt, lemon juice, margarine, and Masala (chaat masala, "chilly" powder, lemon juice, margarine). I chose Masala -- go big or go home.

The corn booth attendant scooped my steamed corn into a bowl, added the appropriate toppings, and mixed the concoction before serving it to me in small cup with miniature spoon.

My masala corn was pretty good. I am excited to see if they add additional flavors. Next up: deep-fried and on a stick, please.

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