It’s not really called “corn pone.” But if it’s true that being given a nickname is a sign of affection, Golden Corn Bake is one of the best-loved dishes on our table for holiday dinners.
I first tasted it at a company potluck holiday lunch. There were probably two dozen dishes, and a lot of them were good. But the corn bake was fabulous — so moist and rich, a little crumbly, not too sweet — in short, heavenly. Phil Potempa, a coworker, had brought it and he gladly shared the recipe.
Since it looks like cornbread, it looked like just another side dish the first time I put it on the table. But we sliced into it like a pie and passed it around. One of the boys asked what it was.
“Looks like corn pone,” joked their Uncle Wally.
Now Wally, their mother’s brother, is the most beloved of all the family members. He’s smart, he’s funny and the boys are crazy about him. And that’s all it took.
I once brought Golden Corn Bake to a holiday potluck myself. The table was loaded with wonderful choices, from salmon to White Castle hamburgers. Someone else had brought a dish that looked a lot like mine. For a minute I wished I had brought something else instead.
But when it was over, most of the other one was still there. The dish I brought had been scraped clean.
If you ask me, I think it’s the butter.
This story first appeared in the Chronicle’s annual Holiday Guide, part of the Dec. 1 print edition.