The Correct Way to Eat Corn-on-the-Cob at the Formal Dinner Table


No reasonable host would serve corn-on-the-cob at a formal dinner. Why not serve corn dogs as well if that is the case? As delicious as it is, corn-on-the-cob is clearly a casual-meal-type food and should be presented at meals consistent with its nature. But who is a gentleman to tell his generous hostess what courses to serve? No gentleman would—of course. Therefore, he must be prepared to correctly eat corn-on-the-cob if it is presented at a formal sit-down. Generally, a considerate host (to the extent that one would consider a host who serves corn-on-the-cob, considerate) will serve the vegetable with cob-holders already inserted into both ends (How considerate!). On other occasions, the little, two-tined implements, sometimes made of sterling silver, are placed on the left side of the plate-setting with the other forks. And when no cob-holders are provided, a gentleman must use both index fingers, with his thumbs serving as additional support, to hold the ends of the cob as he eats the corn. But cob, snob, it should be eaten as follows: Only three or four rows, running half the length of the cob, should be buttered and seasoned at a time. The cob is then picked up, held by the cob-holders or with the fingers as described above, and eaten. Additional butter and seasoning should be applied as described above in intervals as the prepared segments are eaten—as clean as possible—for having to observe another diner’s half-eaten kernels can be most unappetizing. When the entire cob has been eaten clean, or when no more is desired, the cob is placed to the upper left side of the plate from which one is eating, or, preferably, onto the separate plate on which the cob was served. If served with corn-holders, whether pre-inserted or not, they remain inserted in the ears, to be removed by the service staff.

Some guests, for various reasons (at least one being teeth-related), cannot, or prefer not to, eat corn directly from the cob. Such persons should stand the cob up on one end, supported by the fingers (or a cob-holder held in the fingers), in the plate, then and use a sharp knife to cut off three or four rows of kernels at a time. And after applying the desired seasoning, the kernels are conveyed to the mouth with a fork, as one would eat rice or peas.

So the moral of the story is that if a hostess insists on serving garden-fresh corn at a formal dinner, the kernels should be removed from the cobs in the kitchen, for who needs all the table-side drama described above just to enjoy a few, succulent kernels of corn?



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