[color-box color=”black”]Have you ever considered how much corn you actually eat? It’s a southern staple, and it sustained Native Americans for centuries. While it doesn’t thrive naturally without the aid of humans, it’s everywhere, and it pervades the menus of our favorite restaurants. It even stays with us until the next morning, long after it’s eaten. For this edition of Food for Thought, we took “stalk” of the most delicious dishes in the city that highlight this summery, sweet and — dare we say —  amaizeing grain.  [/color-box]

Illustrations by Samantha Schuyler.

Illustrations by Samantha Schuyler.

It was about to rain. The clouds gathered overhead as The Fine Print writers Shayna and Kyle convened Downtown. They were about to begin an epic journey of friendship — and corn.

They were relative strangers. Having only spoken about three times, Kyle and Shayna would learn a great deal about each other over two summer evenings and eight different preparations of sweet corn. Maybe it was the margaritas they ceremoniously began the first night with. Or maybe it was just the corn. Either way, the two quickly cobbled together a budding friendship.

Shayna: We began at Boca Fiesta. Before we had the chance to order our first sampling, the smell of corn arriving at a nearby table wafted over to us like a siren calling us to the rocks. We knew we were in for a cornucopia of flavor.

Unannounced, the waiter delivered a fresh basket of corn chips, an unexpected beginning to our feast. Even the salsa had a few stray kernels of corn intermingled in its tomato-y plasma. We each ordered the “street style” elote corn, as well as some much-needed margaritas. I didn’t know it, but each order would come out with two whole corn cobs, slathered in sour cream, spicy cotija cheese and lime, then pierced with big wooden skewers. In the name of pacing ourselves and spreading the corn-is-good gospel, we reserved two of the corn cobs for Kyle’s grateful friend, Angie.

Kyle: With an eerie ability to detect the presence of corn in all its glorious forms, Shayna led us to The Hyppo. She had a hunch the popsicle store might have a festive corn pop, and indeed, it did: the sweet corn poblano pop.

“Don’t do it,” said Madeline Baker, an employee at The Hyppo. She wasn’t crazy about it, but we all dove into sampling the slightly spicy yellow pop. While the taste wasn’t something people usually seek in a popsicle, it did, undoubtedly, taste like sweet corn and poblano peppers — a high-brow popsicle for only the most refined palates.arepaAfter, we moved on to The Top in search of its famous corn nuggets. The perfectly fried gold orbs, which came with a little cup of their irresistible creamy garlic dipping sauce, were crunchy on the outside and warm and gooey on the inside, studded throughout with bursting sweet corn kernels.

S: The power of those little corn nuggets was so strong that Kyle couldn’t leave them; he got a job at the restaurant as soon as he could!

K: With hearts and bellies full of corn, we decided to call it quits for the night; better to end on a high note.S: Our adventure picked up one week later, this time with a new friend and member of The Fine Print team, Leanne, joining us in our culinary journey.

Our first destination was Southern Charm Kitchen, home of the fabled vegetarian corn succotash, a luscious mosaic of lima beans, green beans, tomatoes, carrots and corn. I was prepared for just one corn dish, but further inspection of the menu revealed two others: cheesy corn grits (great doused in Louisiana hot sauce) and a moist, not-too-sweet sugar-glazed cornbread. It was truly a marathon of corn eating.

K: We continued our mission by traversing downtown to Flaco’s, a restaurant up to its “ears” in corn recipes — they’ve really cornered the market. We decided on the sunshine arepa, which consists of two cornmeal patties, a layer of queso blanco, and a motley assortment of vegetables like peppers, carrots, mushrooms and — you guessed it — corn!pop

The corn in our stomachs slowed us on our walk to Dragonfly, but only slightly. We knew what we wanted: the togarashi yuzu butter corn. Similar to the elote at Boca Fiesta, this cob is grilled to perfection. It’s sliced into fun-sized disks and slathered with yuzu citrus, butter, togarashi (a Japanese chili blend) and minty shiso leaves.

When we finished — two days of corn meals under our belts — we were sure that one more kernel would surely kill us. So was it really worth it? Did we learn anything?

S: The magical bounty and prosper of Florida’s summer sweet corn not only feeds the body — it feeds friendships, too. So was stuffing my face with corn really a good idea? Hell yeah it was, because now, not only am I very full of corn, I’m also full of gratitude and appreciation of my new friend Kyle.

Did you spot all 97 corn puns? Email The Fine Print at editors@thefineprintmag.org, and we’ll send you a lifetime’s supply of corn! Expect your first shipment no later than July of 2020.

Sara Nettle contributed to this report.