Sometimes I wonder what my adolescent self would make of me now. She’d probably raise her eyebrows at the cut of my skinny jeans—a bit too close for comfort, she’d think, to the tapered, stone washed trend that I left behind in elementary school. But I don’t think she’d be at all surprised that I am a lawyer. After all, during a third grade art project, when presented with a wallet size school portrait, scissors and instructions to decorate my photo with the trappings of my future profession, I promptly cut out a miniature business suit and briefcase. I was a big fan of Claire Huxtable and I was that nine-year-old who wanted to be an attorney.
She’d be surprised, though, to learn that I’m an omnivore, willing to taste anything at least once. For a girl who once refused to allow the different foods on her plate to touch, I’ve come a long way.
And she’d be absolutely shocked—mortified, really—to learn that when I go to the movies, I smuggle in a batch of this popcorn in my purse. For one thing, she’ll wonder how I get past the ticket-taker without my nervous giggle blowing my cover (I barely do). And beyond that, I can see her eyes rolling dramatically at the tackiness of it all. What’s next, she might challenge me, absconding with the packets of sugar on the table at the diner?
But this popcorn, I’d tell her, is worth it. Because it’s freshly popped, for one thing. So it’s already miles ahead of the dry, tasteless stuff that’s been sitting in the greasy glass case at the theatre for, what, hours? days? And it’s swathed in real, melted butter—and that neon yellow “buttery topping” the snack counter employees dispense from a pump just can’t compete. And it’s spiced gently with kosher salt and generously with black pepper and fresh rosemary—a welcome departure from the deluge of salt on the theatre stuff.
I’d like to think I could convince her, that moody, flannel-clad, teenage me, but I’m not so sure. She was stubborn, that one—a trait that has most certainly not faded over time. Oh well, more for the grown up me!
Rosemary-Parmesan Popcorn with Black Pepper
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 cup popcorn kernels*
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
3/4 to 1 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper (start on the low end, taste and adjust)
1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt (start on the low end, taste and adjust)
Heat the oil in the bottom of a large, heavy stock pot or Dutch oven* over medium-high heat. Add the popcorn kernels, cover the pot with a tightly fitted lid and shake the pot to coat the kernels in the oil. With the lid closed, continue cooking over medium-high heat, shaking the pot occasionally, until the popping slows down and almost stops.
Transfer the popcorn to the biggest bowl you have. Drizzle the melted butter over the popcorn and stir to distribute the butter. Add the cheese, rosemary, pepper and salt; stir to distribute.
* Make sure the pot has at least a 5.5 quart capacity; otherwise, decrease the amount of kernels you’ll use.