Lombardi Column: October, a time for popcorn, seafood and cookies

Popcorn and Movie Tickets

I used to think the year’s best eating came at November’s Thanksgiving dinner or in July with a couple of North Fork ears of corn. But no, it seems I’m wrong again. 

Listen to this. The month of October has been designated as the national month for popcorn, seafood and cookies. October is even National Vegetarian Month. All these years of eating and I knew nothing of this until just a few days ago.

Here’s how I stumbled on such important information. My older son’s birthday is Oct. 11 (he’s over 50!) and I went to the computer to find out what other good things happen in October. Guess that reveals just how busy I am. But, in any case, I came across the October food celebrations.

I first discovered popcorn long before the microwave popcorn was fashionable. As a kid in Queens, I occasionally went to the Mayfair Movie Theater and sometimes I was lucky enough to have some nickels for popcorn. My little brother Robert often attempted to stick his hand into my popcorn bag but I was too quick for him and brushed him away. Now I am sorry for that and I try to make up for it with special birthday gifts. Like last birthday I gave him slippers, fleecy slippers. He seemed happy with them, but not as delighted as a 6-year-old kid would have been with some popcorn from his sister. Regrets, I have a few.

Now for the seafood. My early acquaintance with fish was limited pretty much to bluefish and fish cakes. My mom always served the fish cakes with beans — as I do today. But, while living on the North Fork for the last 25 years, my fishy encounters have expanded. Yes, I’ve fished in the Sound and the bay, but mostly I choose some good eating from a North Fork fish store. And the guy wrapping the fish even throws in a couple of lemons.

In truth, I have another source of North Fork fish. A certain fisherman, John Minerva, lives near us and on and off during fish season John appears at our back door with the catch of the day. He even fillets the fish so all I do is cook. Thanks, John.

Let’s consider cookies. I eat more than my share of cookies in every month of the year but I suppose I should increase my consumption in National Cookie Month. I tell you, I’ve become a bit lazy and now concentrate on baking cookies that do not require greased cookie sheets. Greasing is a messy job.

I do love rhubarb cookies but that’s a spring delight. I buy huge amounts of rhubarb at a Cutchogue farm stand and then go home and bake. However, it’s October now and a seasonal cookie I like (it’s good for dunking) is a pumpkin cookie. I add raisins and a handful of chocolate chips if they’re in the house. I firmly believe every home should be stocked with chocolate.

Store-bought cookies? Yes, I frequently buy a box or two, wrap ’em up and send them to a grandson aboard the USS Saratoga, out there somewhere. I buy different cookies each time and I like to think of Brian enjoying them with his Navy friends.

I’ve saved the most North Forky for last. If you want to celebrate National Vegetarian Month, you gotta come to the North Fork. Vegetables and fruit all over the place. Potatoes, of course, for potato soup. Cauliflower, too, for soup or cooked with a bit of cheese melted on top.

Then there’s turnip. Tough for these older fingers to peel, but well worth it. Not exactly elegant, I know, but I love to have mashed turnips alongside mashed potatoes. I mush ’em together. It may not look so good, but how delicious it is. Don’t forget squash and cabbage and apples. Apples everywhere. Apples tart or sweet, green or red.

So now, in October, snack on popcorn, sprinkle a little lemon on your fish, stock up on cookies and certainly go to any North Fork farm stand and experience gratitude for bounty. Matter of fact, any month on the North Fork is a time for thanks.

Ms. Lombardi is a resident of Cutchogue.