My grandfather and my niece picking corn in Belgium, 1988
When I was growing up my brother, sister and I took turns visiting my mother’s parents in Belgium during our summer vacation. Each year one of us would go over and stay for a few weeks where they lived, in a small village between Brussels and Waterloo. My grandmother loved getting dressed up and hauling us around to visit relatives all across the country. My grandfather and I would come along and would be polite though we were bored out of our minds. I prefered to stick around my grandparent’s house, where the days moved slowly and were generally organized around food.
My grandfather taught me how to drive on the old stone streets near his home. I was nervous about driving—learning how to do it on a vehicle with a choke didn’t help matters any. He insisted I get over my fears and get on with it. So we’d drive a few minutes down the road, bumping along to the corn fields where we’d pick baby corn–this was corn for the cows not sweet corn–and then come back home, saute the little guys in some olive oil and eat them whole for lunch.
The driving wasn’t much fun for me, but picking the corn, shucking it and giving the outside leaves to the cows next door, and then eating those little suckers is one of my fondest memories of summers abroad.