One of my favorite snacks throughout my life is popcorn. And I’m not talking about movie popcorn or microwave popcorn. I’m talking about the stuff you make yourself either over the stove or in an air popper.
Whenever I eat popcorn I think of my family and my childhood. Every Friday night growing up, my parents would make a big, red, plastic bowl of air popped, lightly buttered and salted popcorn that we’d munch as we watched The Dukes of Hazard followed by Dallas (well, my mom watched Dallas…I don’t think us kids were allowed to).
And whenever we’d visit my Grandma Rose at her ranch in Sheridan, Montana, she’d make piles of popcorn for everyone and serve it to them their own personal bread pan, liberally salted and drizzled with loads of tangy butter that came from her very own cows. It was the height of down home decadence for 9 year old me.
I have so many fond memories of popcorn, yet Jake and I rarely eat it. I think it’s because “popcorn” has become so closely associated with the highly processed caloric bomb you get at the movies or the tinny tasting microwave variety that the very name sounds less appealing.
But my friend Accacia, an avowed popcorn lover who makes hers in a classic popcorn popper, reminded me again how much I freakin’ love popped corn.
She asked me the other night what brand of corn we eat. I confessed I’ve always thought of popcorn kernels as innocuous and generic as table salt — does it matter what brand we eat? We eat the same air popped brand as everybody else: Orville you-know-who (he only has the most amazing name ever).
She got up, walked over to her cupboard and brought back a bag of Hulless Amish Country Popcorn, and said, “Here, try this. You’ll never eat any other brand of popcorn again.”
Intrigued by this sweeping declaration, I cooked up two batches of the different popcorns the other night in order to perform a little taste test. (I wanted to include a third variety but it appears Orville holds the monopoly in my town).
I made them the exact same way using my Cuisinart popcorn maker and the following ratios that make a nice smallish batch of popcorn to split between two people:
- 3 tablespoons peanut oil
- 1/3 cup popcorn kernels
I didn’t bother buttering or salting (I ordinarily consider this sacrilege) because I wanted untampered flavor.
The first thing Jake and I noticed was how white the Amish corn was…almost blindingly white, while the Orville corn had a yellowish hue.
We then tasted the Orville. The flavor was nice, mellow, corn-y (is that a word?), benign. It was perfectly acceptable and agreeable. Then we ate a handful of the Amish corn. It too had a pleasant corn flavor — how else to describe the flavor of popcorn?
The key difference was the texture. The Orville corn was super chewy and got stuck in my teeth. While the Amish corn was light and crisp, almost like a potato chip. Compared to the Amish brand, Orville tasted like styrofoam!
I will never think of popcorn brands as interchangeable again. Thank you, Accacia, for showing me the error of my popcorn making ways.
And I know what I’m getting my popcorn-rabid family members for Christmas!