I'm the first one to admit that I see nothing inherently wrong in enjoying a balanced supper of nourishing popcorn - lightly salted and without butter (because adding butter would just be foolish - from a nutritional standpoint). So this blog might seem a little odd coming from someone eager to promote the addition of popcorn to the Canada Food Guide - at its rightful place at the tippy-top apex of its food pyramid.
The truth is, I don't like corn - apart from its popped incarnation and its candied namesake which fleetingly populates the planet at Hallowe'en. If pushed, I'll grudgingly eat an ear of corn (if slippery with butter and gritty with salt) but that's the extent of both my politeness and desire to eat corn.
In Turkey, corn is everywhere. It is not just dumped on a perfectly lovely green salad or sprinkled far too liberally on top of a pizza - which in most civilized societies would be considered bad form- but it's eaten as a snack. Yes, peppered across the country are boiled corn carts which, for 1 lira (slightly more if you want your corn grilled) you can buy an ear of corn.
Who, I ask you, eats boiled corn for a snack? Besides Turks. I suppose I should commend them for not stuffing their faces and their arteries with junk but still - corn? Corn just doesn't lend itself well to a walking street food. You need both hands - or so I thought until I saw a nation gnawing away with an ear of corn in one hand and holding cell phones to their faces with the other hand. How dexterous these people are!
If this isn't bad enough, corn has infiltrated shopping malls. Where any self-respecting mall would encourage hot dog stands to poison its patrons' bodies with carcinogenic chemicals, corn stands have popped up. And not selling ears of corn but Styrofoam cups of niblet corn.
But not just any niblet corn - noncut niblet corn. I don't even know what that means. Who cuts a kernel of corn? Does it have something to do with circumcision?
Indeed, corn-in-cup (sic) - which I believe is a registered trademark - was first created in a (and I quote) "bold step" by Malaysian corn-aficionado and bearer of "hybrid seed Nelson's 28", Nelson Kwak, who created Nelson's: a corn-pushing fast-food stand. Bold step indeed because I still can't figure out who wants to wander through the Gap or Zara's chewing on flavoured noncut kernel corn and getting the hulls stuck between their teeth.
There are over 500 Nelson's (formerly known as KTT Product Corporation Sdn Bhd) most of which are (not too surprisingly) in the Far East - and, if you go to their website, you can view a list of outlets and a highlighted map of the world to see where they're located - except that the list doesn't correspond to the map at all. And North America is missing.
Curiosity piqued? Wondering if actual chickadees are ground up in the production of their "Chickedees (sic) corn flavour"? Thrilled at the possibility of offering your community a snack that's "safe to eat"? Have some spare cash under the mattress? You too could open your own Nelson's franchise and become a Korn King yourself. But please - please - choose a country other than Turkey. There are far too many corn stands in this country as it is (boiled or noncut) and quite frankly, corn kernels are - shall we say - malodorous. The US is wide open: only Seattle has signed on to stink up its malls.
Or here's a thought: open a popcorn stand. You know, the way God intended corn to be.