This is what I least expected to find in London: a street cart selling nothing but steamed corn. But yesterday, touring around with Mr. English and Mr. and Mrs. Miami on the South Bank, I saw this stand. Magic Corn, it read on the sign strapped above the cart. “Magic corn?” I thought. What can it do?
It was that question that I asked the salesman behind the cart. He showed me a huge sac of frozen corn kernels, that instead of putting into an oil popper, he put into a huge vat steamer. No added fat. I was excited! Then, he asked what flavor I wanted. I was torn, but I told him cheese. He added some suspicious orange cheese spread, and that kind of cheddar popcorn topping to some hot corn in a thermos, and started shaking it like a martini. He gently poured the nuggets of cheesy corn in a little Styrofoam cup and handed it to me.
In the cold, damp wind, it felt warm and inviting. With the little yellow spoon, I tasted my first bite: salty and sweet, and the kernels were big and juicy and popped in my mouth. It reminded me of that Hidden Valley ranch dressing commercial: “where vegetables are delectable.” It was a healthy, vegetarian, genius thing. And I loved it. The cheese topping was minimal—just a hint of flavor. The perfect snack—I could even see myself grabbing one for a quick lunch. Mr. English tells me there’s another stand just outside his office, and apparently it’s really catching on. Guiltless golden nuggets. Certainly worth my £2.
The only real question is what flavor am I going to get next time? Curry? Tom Yum? I actually think I will stick with cheese, or maybe even just ask for plain salt. I just love that sweet-salty unadulterated crunch of corn, or as Mr. English calls it, sweet corn. Tomato, tom-ah-to.
Do I think we will be seeing Magic Corn stands sprouting up next to the hotdog carts in New York City? I doubt it, but I wish they would. As much as I love the perfect snappy dog on a sweet-soft bun with spicy mustard, I wouldn’t mind a brighter, lighter alternative that didn’t come with a side of guilt.
All over London
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