What is Summer for Chowhounds?
I just read a short article from yesterdays NY Village Voice where Nina Lalli describes summer street food in Harlem. The article is called "When the Streets are Paved with Snacks." It very much reminded me of what summer is like in ethnic NY City.
That was part of my growing in Park Slope, Brooklyn. I loved shaved ice and every street food I could beg a dime from my folks for. But that experience varied incredibly with other parts of my life which had a completely different scene.
I spent 1/2 of my summers on a Iowa farm riding horses through head high corn and over grassy fields all day with a squashed packed lunch and fresh ears of candy sweet corn just plucked for desert. Also visiting the State Fair and watching all the animal and food competions while eating corn dogs, fresh lemonade, fat ears of hot buttered corn, Iowa style Italian sausage, and then going to church suppers trying various casseroles and such.
The other 1/2 of my summers were spent on the lakes and coast of Maine with its lush woods and warm lakes, frying just caught lake fish. Spending all morning picking wild berries and getting my face and hands stained red and blue. This combined with the stark, craggy, breezy, and sometimes foggy shoreline, where I ate lobster, steamers, and fried clam bellies, washed down with stolen sips of my folks wine and beer.
What do you think of when you combine summer and food where you live or grew up? Also what area/region?
Fried chicken and potato salad, watermelon, Grandma's fruit punch in the gallon Thermos jug, hot dogs over a fire on the sand down by the creek. Cleaning stacks of roastin' ears on the back porch, corn silk everywhere. Picking berries and vegetables in Grandpa Owen's garden, then writhing in an agony of itch in church the next day, chiggers biting where I couldn't scratch in public. Illinois State Fair food: corn dogs, lemonade, fresh-fried doughnuts...and then years later, in Nashville, Italian sausage, barbecue, and discovering chitlins at the Daughters of Isis lunch counter. Oh, and fried catfish and bluegill, for sure, all summer long.
re: Will Owen
Will, our childhood foods have some similarities.
I recall: PaPa's watermelon, both red and yellow, of which he was inordinately proud, and to which he applied salt. PaPa's blackberry patch, torture for a child-laborer. More child abuse being forced to shell peas and break green beans while I watched TV at night. Every night. Homemade peach ice cream that took forever to churn and then my Dad had the nerve to make me wait another hour while it "hardened up".
On vacation, being forced to remove myself from the ocean for an hour each day to eat lunch and then wait out the 45 minute no-cramp rule. Inhaling tiny fried Calabash shrimp by the plates full. Vacation bible school and family renuions at the church spring (our church so old it still sits by the spring where baptisms were held before there was a permanent structure) under a picnic shelter and the tables LADEN with food produced by proud, old-fashioned cooks bringing their VERY BEST to share. As far as I can tell, the tiny Calabash river shrimp and the scratch cooks at my church are both gone with the wind.
Thanks for the article - I can't wait to eat one of those pork skin gorditas.
I live in NY City and what I love best about summer is the fruit: sweet, black cherries, juicy peaches, deep-red watermelon, fragrant honeydews, spoonable papaya, etc. Summer is also Italian ices, backyard barbecues, and sweet corn.
As a child, growing up in the suburbs of Cleveland, summer was picking the raspberries from the bushes in our backyard with my sisters, promising to put them in the basket but stuffing our faces until everything was stained. Then we'd give some to the sweet lady next door and the next day, she'd bring a blueberry pie. Summer was also those lemonade and fruit punch drinks they served at camp in little cartons that looked like milk. They were always ice cold, sometimes half frozen. Summer was flavored popsicles, the grape ones first for me, then I'd eat the cherry ones, and then have to finish the orange so my mom would buy more. And summer was the delicious corn my dad would grow in the little garden in the backyard, plus wild strawberries we'd put sour cream and sugar on, when rabbits didn't get into the garden.
Now, in South Florida, summer is iced tea and lemonade, or better yet, both together. It's watermelon at the beach, somewhat warm from the car trip there. It's scotch neat whenever some of my husbands friends get together. And best of all, it's lychees purchased from a grove that we visit every year. We eat several of them fresh, then rinse the rest (in their peels) in acidulated water and put them in the freezer. There is nothing better on a hot summer day than a lychee fruit eaten straight from the freezer. We served lychee martinis at our wedding 2 years ago, so for us and all of our friends & family, the fruit transports us back to that wonderful day as well.
Corn on the cob with lots of butter, sweet watermelon, a bushel of crabs and cold beer...scream summer to me.