Last Saturday I had a bucket list experience: I spent two hours with in a high-end kitchen supply outlet store with my daughter, who works there, and her employee discount. I realized that I bought things not only because I needed them, or wanted to replace an older version, but also because the words used to describe them were too delicious to forgo. The “corn zipper” is a case in point. This tool allows a cook to strip an ear of corn right from the root of each nib. The promise of efficiency is delivered in the word “zipper” and I can only hope I hear that zipping sound when I first use it to make succotash. Succotash is a Narragansett Indian word for “broken pieces”, first cooked along the coast of New England where corn and lima beans were plentiful. It’s a simple mixture of the two vegetables, a little salt pork for the fat, and some milk or cream to hold it together enough to make it a dish. It was an inexpensive meal, a thrifty way to put leftover corn to use.
I also bought a tube “umami paste”. Umami is part of the flavor spectrum (sour, salty, sweet, and bitter) and first was known to the Japanese, whose cuisine traditionally combines foods to produce a savory taste like that’s found in fish, mushrooms, cheeses, and fermented foods like soy and fish sauce.