I’m feeling a little guilty. In this post from last week I glorified one snack food and all but slandered one of my very favorite snack foods ever, popcorn. But you see, the popcorn I love must be made under certain circumstances with certain people; it’s no ordinary popcorn. Let me explain.
My junior year of college was crazy. Think reading-Brothers Karamazov-in-one-week crazy and why-in-the-world-did-I-think-I-wanted-to-learn-Greek? crazy. It was crazy for my friends too. One night Robin had to finish a large number of figure studies sketches before class the next day, and, lacking other models at 2 a.m., she sketched Laura, head bent over Beowulf translation work, and me, literally snoozing over paradigms and case endings charts. We were exhausted, we were loopy, we were desperate.
In the midst of our desperation, though, we three found solace and energy in our nightly popcorn breaks. We trekked from our dorm rooms down the hall to the dorm kitchen bearing a bottle of olive oil, a shaker of sea salt, a red plastic bowl and, most importantly, a bag of popcorn kernels. Robin had mastered the olive oil routine. She carefully poured a stream of olive oil in the pan and then tilted the pan to coat the entire bottom. When the two kernels we put in the pan popped, Laura would quickly pour in the rest of the kernels. Lid back on the pan, we took turns shaking the pan as the kernels began their frenzied popping. When the popping sound grew few and far between and the white puffs began peeking out from beneath the lid, we poured the hot popcorn into our red plastic bowl and showered it with sea salt. No butter, no parmesan, no sugar. Fresh, homemade popcorn only needs sea salt.
Part of the solace we found in our popcorn breaks was doing something together, something that was fun and produced immediate results. The other part was in the conversation that ensued as we sat cross-legged on the dorm room floor, circling the popcorn bowl. This was a time to clear our minds from schoolwork and let our minds wander to other things in life. Robin would open up her art history books and give us short lessons on an artist she’d read about. We’d wonder together, “What is Postmodernism, after all?” Oh yeah, and then there was “Five Minutes.” We had five minutes—and five minutes only—to talk about boys. When the timer was up, the conversation changed. And when the last kernels in the bowl were eaten up, it was time to head back to our schoolwork.
Moral of the story: when you make fresh, homemade popcorn, share it with friends. That’s half the experience.
Making popcorn on the stove is really easy—don’t let it scare you away!
- Simply choose a sturdy saucepan with a lid (larger if you want more popcorn, smaller if you want less).
- Pour in enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan.
- Now, there are actually two methods for this next step and I think they both work equally well. You can either put just two popcorn kernels in the pan, wait for them to pop and then pour in the rest of the kernels OR you can put all your popcorn kernels in the pan at the beginning. Regardless of which way you choose, you want to put in enough kernels to coat the bottom of the pan in a single layer. No double-high kernels here; if you want more, you’ll simply have to make another batch or use a bigger pan.
- With the pan turned on to medium-high heat, listen carefully for the sound of the first kernels popping. Shake the pan side-to-side occasionally so the popcorn doesn’t burn. You don’t need to shake it constantly; just a few times.
- When the popping stops, remove the lid (carefully! The steam will be hot!) and pour into a bowl. Sprinkle with salt and share with friends.