Years ago I got in a heated argument with friends originally from California when I was talking about the superiority of corn and tomatoes grown in NJ. They talked about all the farms in California and how good the produce is there, etc etc. I countered with, “I know but I’m talking specifically corn and tomatoes. There’s no comparison.” They were still in disbelief.
It’s not surprising. When people think of New Jersey, they think of the smell of the NJ Turnpike shortly after leaving NYC. I come from South Jersey (moved to NYC from Ocean City, NJ in ‘94), a world away from what people have called “the armpit of the nation.” It’s a region, due to its proximity to Philadelphia, where people eat “hoagies” and have a weird way of pronouncing words, particularly those with the letter O, as in: “Nah, I’m goeing hooeme noaw. Awight. Laater.” [if you still can't hear the accent I'm referring to, watch Hardball with Chris Matthews on MSNBC] The Phillies and Eagles are religion, as are sweet white corn and beefsteak tomatoes. Some people take fishing (I hated it), surfing (I was obsessed) and boating (was way above my family’s pay grade) pretty seriously as well. For me, sweet white corn and beefsteak tomatoes is a pretty serious religion this time of year.
The season runs from July 1st until about mid-September. During this time, I try to get to a farmer’s market as often I can, and consume as much as I can. My partner has learned to live with this quirk and laughs when I inform him on Tuesdays and Thursdays, “I got corn and tomatoes.” Which means he is supposed to come up with something for dinner that involves corn and tomatoes.
There’s about a month left of the season. If you’re reading this and have never bitten into a tomato or ear of corn from Jersey, I highly recommend locating the nearest farmer’s market. If you’re in the New York Metropolitan area, chances are they have ‘em. Make a tomato salad, season with a little salt and pepper, and oil and balsamic vinegar. Boil the corn until when you put your nose above the boiling water, there’s an overwhelming smell of corn. Season the corn with a little salt and butter. What you choose to have to accompany this is up to you. I guarantee that you will leave the table exclaiming “God damn that was good corn. And those tomatoes were amazing!”