Saturday night, Danny was up late with a teething baby, walking the hallway and singing. So, of course, he put a head of fresh spring garlic into the oven. (like you do.) By the time she was ready to curl up to sleep again, the garlic had grown soft as stewed prunes. He put her down, then pulled the baking tray out of the oven and left it out to cool. When he crawled back into bed, I lifted my head and sniffed the sweet, pungent smell of roasted garlic.
And then went back to sleep.
In the morning, he kneaded the garlic into soft butter, squeezed a lemon, stirred a smattering of smoked paprika, and seasoned with salt and pepper. Into the refrigerator.
We spent the morning reminiscing, looking at the present I made for him — pictures from the last 11 months — while Little Bean bounced on the balls of her feet between us, reaching up to pat the window. We teared up, talking about this year, the most dramatic, laughter-filled, action-packed year of our lives.
A din of voices, laughing and clambering over each other, talking fast and telling stories. The entire family gathered at our house, to celebrate. At one point, my father sat on the rocking chair, his knees filled with grandchildren, his arms around them both. His smile could have lit the island.
As we ate, however, there was silence. Contented, chewing silence. Danny loves several sounds, deeply. The sound of Little Bean chattering in the morning. The startle of thunder rumbling over our house. And the silence people make when they eat his food.
We had a feast: a big bowl of coleslaw; potato salad with homemade mayonnaise and fresh dill; a green salad made with lettuce from my brother’s garden; salmon on the grill, brushed with Danny’s barbeque sauce (recipe in my book). But best of all, corn on the cob, with a bowl of the roasted garlic/smoked paprika butter on the side.
Little Bean smells the meals before us and demands to eat too. So I fed her first, of course. But while she ate, I kept thinking about that corn. The corn he had grilled in their husks, a few kernels tinged with black, the rest softened and waiting.
I remembered the corn on the cob I ate as a kid, around another table with my parents, the little plastic holders shaped like corn stabbed into the ends. Then, we ate corn on the cob with margarine and iodized salt. And I loved that corn. Craved it. Every summer.
By the time I finally had the chance to eat, I reached first for the cobs. The taste of the corn I imagined while I gazed at it on the table paled in comparison to the thing itself. How would you describe the taste of good corn on the cob? I find I can’t quite do it today. Sweet. Entangled in the teeth. Robust. Ephemeral. They don’t quite cut it, do they?
Somehow, that corn tasted like the perfect way to celebrate Father’s Day, the first one for my husband and Little Bean’s papa, the darling man who makes the food on his day because he insists, because that’s his favorite way to celebrate — feeding the rest of us.
And you? What did you eat for Fathers’ Day? And how are you going to eat corn this summer?