Campus Life wenbo’s walks

I love you

You are sweet when you want to be

Dear corn,

I just wanted to say I love you. You’re the best fruit a human can ever ask for, and the greatest abomination of a plant to be ever produced. You, you sustain me in my endeavors like no other. You inspire me to make bread, to make cornbread, the life, the spirit, and the best food one could ever produce.

I love cornbread. It goes well with most things, and it also goes well alone. It tastes good in any setting: on a platter, on a dinner table, on a floor. I mean, that is, on a platter which is on a dinner table which is on a floor, not that the cornbread is directly on the floor. When I said cornbread goes well with most things, floor particles are definitely not included in that particular category.

In fact, floor particles are one of the things that go well with no things, residing in a class of its own.

Teosinte, widely-regarded corn ancestor? Lame. With its closed kernels, one could’ve never quite foretold the image of its future. But then, on one fateful day, someone believed in you. Believed so deeply in you that they turned the most useless looking weed into the most succulent crop.

And the memories rush back to me, corn. You can be sweet when you want to be, but also waxy at other times. No matter the form you take, you are irresistible. I remember biting into my first cob of waxy corn, and my future mapped before my eyes. I found my identity in you, in those delicious kernels of corn.

I still crave that waxy corn, but unfortunately as far as I am aware, it fails to exist in the confines of most, if not all, U.S. markets. It’s rare that I drool over food, but boy do I drool over waxy corn.

I walk around the produce aisle of Target, and I admire the husk that surrounds you, the firm grip with which each kernel clings so confidently to the cob. Alas, this is perhaps your very downfall: your pride. You cling so tightly to your shell that you can’t even grow out of it to reproduce without human help.

But despite your fundamental downfall, you have helped the human race immensely in not only your nutrition, but also your contributions to genetics. Who would’ve thought that admiring you could have led Barbara McClintock to the discovery of transposons, one of the most important discoveries in semi-modern genetics, not only useful in artificially engineered systems but also fascinating as a possible precursor to many viruses?

Additionally, dare I say that you help create one of the best substrates on which penicillin can grow? Wild.

You taste sweet. You taste like the wind on a hot and sunny Texan day. You taste like the tortilla of a crunchy taco, the crunch on a deep-fried stick of butter, and the buttery smoothness in that yummy, yummy high fructose corn syrup.

I roll around in trousers after returning from the grocery store. Sorry, to clarify: I’m in bed at this point. It’s not like I just arrived home, dropped everything, and immediately started rolling around in my trousers. I mean, that’s not out of the question for me, per se, but it is a bit absurd.

Sorry, back to you. This article is all about you, after all. I want to focus on you. I want to give you all my attention, if only for approximately 900 words.

Corn powers the economy, and it powers our cars. Biodegradable plastic polylactic acid? Also corn! Who knew that the decision of one to believe in a tiny weed many thousands of years ago would lead to a bustling economy? I certainly didn’t.

Is there a moral to this story, a beautiful story about how belief will solve all our problems? Definitely not. Don’t read too deeply into this. Some things cannot be fixed with all the belief in the world, and that’s just the way things are.

But let me tell you why I decided to write about you, of all days. It’s because today I thought about you while taking a stroll in the morning. As the frigid air blew past my face despite my best efforts to shield it, I thought about all the cornfields I had trekked through when I was younger, and all the corn mazes I used to go into typically around this time, and how I have to wait at least until next year before I can do these things again. But with the new possible vaccine, I’m optimistic. Cautiously.

I also thought about you due to the upcoming Thanksgiving break, of course, but that was definitely not the primary reason.

I mean, this doesn’t mean I don’t have some qualms with you, though. For example, what in the world is baby corn? Why does it exist? It doesn’t taste good, and it serves no culinary purpose, as far as I know. So why? Why? Why? Can’t we just leave the unripe corn alone to let it become the magnificent being it was destined to be?



P.S. Thanksgiving or not, this year will be different for most of us. I hope you, dear reader, get to spend time with your loved ones. Despite the chaos of the past year, I hope that you are able to congregate in some form, socially distanced and virtually perhaps, around the table with some delicious food (and corn too, if you please).