Though it's tough to say that corn is still the cornerstone of civilization – as we have so many nutritional options now – it's still a big part of summer in Oak Park, and it's probably the food we look forward to most when the weather gets warmer.
On my last night in Cortez, Colorado, I was invited to dinner at Rodney Carriker's Canyon Trails Ranch. Talking to Carriker, who began his professional life at Xerox (!), you get a sense for what it must have been like to work on the plains during cowboy days, living life on your own terms, taking care of horses, learning new skills (like working iron and making wheels), and being a welcoming host to others who might come along the trail.
Adam Friedberg owns River Forest Kitchen. Since opening last summer, this culinary incubator space has helped grow over 15 local food businesses, giving them the space they need to flex their culinary imaginations, test their food concepts and then produce those foods for a larger market.
Some of us welcome the coming of warm weather chow to our tables with locally grown radishes, asparagus or pea shoots. My personal culinary rite of spring is all about soft-shell crabs, which usually begin to be harvested after the first full moon in May. Spotting the Wednesday Journal advert for Poor Phil's soft-shell crabs, I went over for lunch.
People swap food for many reasons. First, it's a terrific way to diversify your pantry and eat more homemade foods, the kind of foods that you might not make yourself. Second, it's very gratifying for a home cook or gardener who has put in a lot of time and effort honing their skills to encounter people outside their immediate circle who appreciate and desire their food. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, food swaps bring together people from all walks of life who share a love of food. You come for the food, but you return for the community.