Friday, January 4, 2013

Popcorn

Popcorn in the Meyer family was a cultural event. It started in the garden of Grandma and Grandpa Meyer in Milledgeville, Illinois. Their huge garden, between the house and the railroad tracks, was evenly split between flowers and vegetables. The vegetable area grew both sweet and popcorn. The popcorn plants were distinguished by being noticeably shorter.


In the fall the popcorn would be picked and shucked and placed in a chicken-wire bin in their basement. The cool, damp basement had magical properties that allowed the ears to dry to just the right moisture content level to pop into large kernels.

When the early Meyer family (Dad, Mom, Larry and Terry) visited, the boys would be pressed into service shelling the corn off the cobs into brown paper grocery bags. This was brutal, thumb-breaking work, but worth it later.

Trips to Milledgeville meant coming home with some great foodstuffs. Canned fruit, jellies, jams, peas, apples, rhubarb, chickens (from the farm) or popcorn.

At the house on Sixth Avenue,the big brown paper bags of popcorn kernels went into a small cooler that was built onto the kitchen wall. The cooler only really cooled in the winter because it hung off the outside wall, but it kept the popcorn fresh all year long.

The actual popping of the corn was always done by Dad when he was home. The rest of us would scramble to get our Tupperware bowls and be ready when the huge tub of popcorn made its way to the living room.

Popcorn was our snack food in those days, but it was also much more. It was a family event. It was served when we were all together and when we had family visitors. A shared experience.