The weather here in SF has been nothing if not confusing these past few weeks. Not only have we had rain, including thunder and lightning (which rarely, if ever, occurs here), but in a span of 3 days, we have gone from 95° to 55°, with no knowledge of which way the wind will blow next (literally, folks, I mean it).
With the hope that Fall is really coming to us, and all of those great new releases, I’ve been thinking a lot about popcorn. Not the microwave kind, nor the Jiffy-Pop stovetop popper kind, and most certainly not the air popper kind. No. The Joe kind. My Dad makes the best oil-popped popcorn around. And I should know, since popcorn was a bring your own affair to movie theaters and baseball games alike.
This was as much out of necessity (imagine buying popcorn for five kids and two adults…it could cost as much as a downpayment on a small house), as it was out of personal taste. It is yet another example of Gran Fran and Joe’s unerring level of taste, which extended even to snack foods.
Getting everyone out the door for the movies, not only involved a final trip to the bathroom for all (which always led Gran Fran to yell out “Gotta go to the bathroom Anthony?”, apparently this was something she often overheard as a child in her Brooklyn neighborhood, being yelled from a window to kids on the street), but also to the preparation and packaging of everyone’s popcorn.
There were two packaging methods, plastic quart bag with a twist tie, or a brown paper lunch sack. I am unclear to this day as to whether or not these co-existed, or if we transitioned from one type of bag to the other over time. Regardless, the popcorn went with us in a lare purse, and somehow we always made it into the theater with our secret stash intact until the lights went down.
To this day, even though I have been known to consume huge quantities of movie theater popcorn, it never quite lives up to Joe’s. The secret, I believe, is his use of olive oil as teh cooking medium. It leaves the popcorn just moist enough to not burn, but no too soggy. And, there is no butter served or offered. Instead, salt, cayenne pepper or just black pepper are accompaniments for Joe’s popcorn. I don’t think I even realied that butter was an option until I was grown and buying popcorn at the movies myself. I do sometimes add butter at home, but usually, just sprinkle some more olive oil over the top when cooking is complete.
I can no longer keep popcorn kernals in my house. Many a night has passed without dinner while I watch movies at my house. Instead, I can be found on the couch with a mixing bowl large enough to hold a small baby in it, filled with popcorn, covered in olive oil, salt and cayenne, alongside a big glass of water. Needless to say, my belly isn’t well for hours afterward, but it is sually worth the slight stomach upset in return for the goodness of JoeCorn (I just made that name up, but I think it might stick).