My love affair with the Flathead got a little more serious last weekend. After a day in Glacier I dined at Mama Blanca’s in Whitefish for the second time, and finally, I tried the grilled corn that I have been hearing so much about.
Let me say this about the grilled corn, and I mean it honestly and without exaggeration: It is one of the best dishes I have ever had at a restaurant, anywhere, ever. If you’ve never had it I implore you to try it at your earliest convenience. And bring some dental floss.
The dish arrives, steaming, four cones of massive corncobs on wooden sticks. It’s two ears, each broken in half, and smothered in an herbed mayonnaise with parmesan cheese and pepper. Two lime wedges accompany the corn to squeeze over it. There are other ingredients, I’m sure, but memory fails me – I entered into a kind of primitive, ravenous mental state when the dish was set before us on the table. It is an appetizer that liberates you from the constraints of etiquette: There is no way to eat it neatly. Just attack.
I huddled over my plate and stopped talking. The ears were bright golden, yellow, with certain kernels lightly browned where they had lain on the grill. Each bite was so crunchy and juicy it was like eating raw, steaming liquid popcorn – a meal unto itself. I became aware the cheese and herb mayo was smeared on my face, but we were in a booth and I didn’t care. I was like an ancient Roman at one of those weird feasts. More Dos Equis beer to wash it down and on to the main course!
If it sounds like I’m going overboard, I dare you to try this dish. I love food and I’ve been thinking about it for the last couple of days. I realize that the grilled corn at Mama Blanca’s achieves what the best of any discipline manage to do as well: to get you to consider a simple, familiar thing in an entirely new way. I’ve been eating corn-on-the-cob my whole life, but I’ve never had it like this. It has opened up an entirely new way for me to think about that food. It’s exhilarating, like watching a basketball player unveil a new move, driving for the hoop, cultivating an entirely different range of possibilities.
I’ve probably built up expectations for this dish beyond reason. But it’s worth a try. It’s fresh, different, delicious. It made me happy. Not bad for an appetizer.
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