Give a glorious corn feast

Butter and salt for the purists, imaginative seasonings for the adventurous, a potluck spread for all
LINDA LAU ANUSASANANAN

Corn for a Crowd

For the last 31 years, Neil and Susan Hall and Allan and Barbara Fredrickson have taken corn to the ultimate level in eating, sharing the experience annually with about 150 friends. The process begins in late spring at the Halls' nursery in Mount Vernon, Washington, when they plant four 200-foot-long rows of corn. The variety they currently favor is Platinum Lady, a sweet white hybrid well suited to their climate.

Then, on party day, they serve up a feast of succulent corn cooked within minutes of harvest ― right in the field where it grew.

As 500 or so ears of corn are stripped from their stalks, guests lend a hand to husk them. In a 32-quart pan of water boiling over a powerful portable propane burner, Neil cooks a batch of 20 ears about every four minutes. And how quickly these sweet, tender ears disappear, as one and all chomp into tight rows of plump kernels, squirting sweet, milky nectar.

The rest of the meal, for those who can manage, is roast chickens and a potluck spread of entrées, salads, and desserts, which the guests help supply.

Sounds like fun, but you didn't plant any corn? Not to worry. Farm stands and urban farmers' markets are a ready resource for contemporary varieties of corn bred to stay sweet for days, not just minutes. You can follow the simple Mount Vernon menu plan. But to focus due attention on the corn, we suggest adding a collection of spreads and sprinkles to enhance it.