At my house food vanishes within seconds. And when it comes to mayi boukannen or mayi bouyi, se la pou’w la. Otherwise, the only thing your tastebuds will come close to sampling will be the sweet smell of corn that permeates every corner of the house and lingers for a while.
Fresh corn on the cob has always been our favorite after-dinner treat. They start making their way in our family kitchen around the beginning of June, though corn on the cob start invading our sidewalks in the form of mayi boukannen earlier in May. Street merchants indeed start firing up their makeshift grills, which are easily spotted from afar – the area surrounding them is typically covered with corn peels that one simply cannot miss – in the early days of May.
At home, we however wait till the month of June for our homemade batches because that’s when corn gets harvested in abundance in our area. We find freshly picked corn, which we buy year after year in the same spot on the side of the road at the entrance of Fermathe.
We chose these particular sellers because they typically grow their own corn. They thus tend to sell fresher corn. Over the years I have come to associate their presence with the peak of the season when corn is at its best, even when they may have already been available for a while everywhere else.
By fresh I mean mayi ole, corn on the cob that was handpicked the same day and thus still retains its juiciness and sweetness. Please note that our local corn is different from the corn typically found in the US. It has firmer grains that take longer to boil than its US counterpart and that often pop into popcorn when grilled. The popcorn usually happens with mayi rek, which is a word we use to refer to more mature corn that stayed in the field longer.
As a child, I would stand next to the grill just waiting for these grains to pop because I wanted that particular cob. Back then I didn’t really grasp the concept of mayi ole, as through my children eyes the bigger grains, thus mayi rek, simply had to be better. It was more filling afterall.
But today, I know better, and just like my mom used to do, I go straight for the mayi ole, even when that means going for the smaller corn. Unfortunately, the competition is high at home now that we all understand that mayi ole is best. Needless to say that when we make corn on the cob at home it’s a race. First comers now pick the mayi ole, usually leaving the rek ones to the latecomer.
Don’t get me wrong, we will still enjoy our corn regardless; mayi rek is also a treat, the mayi ole just tastes a bit better.
With all this passion for corn on the cob, I am sure you now understand why when it comes to these mayi boukannen and mayi bouyi, in our family kitchen, Se la pou’w la.