My family, growing up, was the pile-in-the-van-or-station-wagon-with-a-cooler-full-of-snacks-and-hit-the-road-to-the-mountains-or-the-coast type of family. I hadn't set foot on a plane till I was 15. Or my parents loved to do that big, two-day-long haul from Washington to California every year, with 4 kids and an inevitable tire blowout. My parents wanted to see every rock, salamander, and waterfall along the way as I agonized and pointed out signs that read "Watch Your Children. Mountain Lions Present." MOUNTAIN LIONS PRESENT? WATCH YOUR CHILDREN? Get me back in the car! My 10 year-old mind was always on fire, wishing I was NOT on a road trip. I've always had the problem of feeling like an adult, even as a child. I was right, my opinions needed to be valued, and I saw the world quite differently from everyone my own age. I used to say how much I hated road trips. I'd never go! Fast forward 25 years, and now that I have my own family, I can't wait to inflict that kind of fun on my kiddo every year. There is so much value in a family road trip, so keep on dragging your kids into the family car and through the pass on a grueling 2 or 3 day drive. Because when your babies are all grown, they will long for those days. Their hearts will be full of so many memories that will make them stop and laugh alone in their car, or a smell will bring them right back to the vending machine at the Motel 6 in Redding, CA and the Kit Kat bar filled with ants, and they will love every bit of it.
Those are the days that transitioned me into just wanting to see the world, wanting to experience all of it! In the few years after high school, I used to travel with my girlfriends somewhere tropical, religiously, before I got married. We spent 6 years going everywhere in the Caribbean. We were in Mexico and the British Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico and St. John, ALWAYS. I had 3 roommates, and all I ever wanted to save for was airfare for the next adventure. Those were some pretty sweet times. My best ladies and me.
I was even so bold as to head to Mexico alone for 4 weeks just before I met Michael 11 years ago. My mom begged me not to go, because what 24 year-old girl needs to go to the middle of Mexico alone? Me! I needed to go to Mexico alone and figure some life out. I had just come out of a bad relationship and closed on a house I flipped (yup, I used to flip houses! [a house, I flipped a house]) I needed to write on the beach and meet locals and be by myself, inside my head, in Playa Del Carmen, just before it became a tourist hot spot. That trip changed me. I learned to deal with boredom and loneliness, and I learned to really love myself. I wore a bikini with a less-than-perfect bikini body and ate grilled octopus and guacamole and drank Coronas like it was my JOB.
During my third week in paradise, I was anxiously awaiting the arrival of a set of sweet friends. This was during the days of internet cafes and cell phones that only worked in the States. I hadn't heard of roaming, I had a brand new useless "chocolate" phone (remember those? They were the hotness before the arrival of the iPhone). I'd just check my email, paying by the minute to see when friends would arrive at their hotel across town. I was staying at stunning beach condos about 2 miles outside town. I'd wake up every day and walk into town and just be. Day one passed, I hadn't seen my friends. I checked my emails and nothing. Shoot, I knew they were here, but because it was a simpler time I wasn't able to call them. Day two passed, no word. Day three...I was beginning to consider going home. I couldn't connect with my friends and thought I might just be done in Mexico. Then it happened: I was sitting in a tiny restaurant, scanning the street, and happened to see what I thought was the back of my girlfriend's husband's head! I jumped up and ran out into the street yelling after him! It was him! I was saved!! I spent the duration of my trip at the beach and experiencing Mexico with a couple I knew and loved.
One evening we decided to take the ferry into the Isla of Mujeres and explore, then the next evening we decided to take the ferry into Cozumel! We were hungry, and there was a vendor selling corn slathered in mayo and spices and cotija. I politely declined as everyone gathered 'round the cart. "What? You don't want any?" My friends were shocked. It wasn't that I didn't want any, but I didn't know how long that mayo was on his cart! After a bit of convincing, I was in. I was headed home in a few days; it couldn't hurt. We walked away from the cart, and I ate my first ear of street corn. Elote. I was floored. This kid from Spanaway, Washington was really changing. She was beginning to see food and people in a completely different way than she always had and was enjoying every bit of it. I am so grateful for the friends I have had, who have, in a way, become part of my fabric. People and experiences and places shape us into the people we are today, and I am glad for every one of my Yes's. They haven't all been golden, but they have been valuable. Isn't that just like life? Seemingly simple things, people and places, taking you and making you who you are. Every time I think about street corn, I remember that trip where I found some direction, where I got back on track, where I shut off some unhealthy habits and started saying Yes more. Funny how corn can do that.
I hope you try my version of spicy, creamy, flavorful goodness and think of a time in your life when you started to grow up. Maybe that's now! Take a trip or a walk and let it all go. Get the corn and just live. Happy Friday, friends!
6-8 ears of fresh corn, silks removed but husks intact.
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 cup sliced green onions
1 cup chopped cilantro
1 cube melted salted butter
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
Remove the silks from the corn cob, but take care to leave the husks attached for a nice handle when eating your corn. Grill the corn for about 8-10 minutes until it’s turned golden and the husks begin to char. Melt butter in a sauce pan and add the chipotle pepper and half the scallions. Place the cooked corn on a large platter and drizzle the butter all over the corn. Sprinkle with feta, cilantro, and more green onions. Sprinkle a touch of salt and fresh cracked pepper over each ear! Then...enjoy!