What America Eats

I’m just back from  a ten-day visit with family and friends in Minnesota. Returning to the place and people of my childhood is always an experience with emotional  layers. One feels  love for sure, but my time there can be delightful, disturbing and thought provoking all at once.

Much can  be said about all  this, but for now I’ll  limit myself to one of the highlights:  the Minnesota State Fair.  This is a huge event in  Minnesota,  between one  and  two million people attend every year  and it is a great place to observe the culture of  Minnesota in its diversity.  Garrison Keillor’s Minnesota of staid Scandanavian  and German Lutherans is very much the one I grew up in, and an updated version of that culture is prominent yet, but people from Somalia, Laos, Mexico and dozens of other  countries now claim their stake as Minnesotans.

These changes are nowhere  more evident than in the culture of what and how people eat.  And make no mistake,  the Fair is about people getting together to  eat.  So what was on offer at  the  2009 Minnesota State Fair?  A dizzying variety of options, but most famously, food on a stick. Yes, yes, the obvious such  as corn dogs and cotton candy.  Those are naturals for a stick.  But barbecued alligator, deep-fried snickers bars, spaghetti, a reuben sandwich on  a stick?  My favorite, though, has to be the Norwegian banana split on a stick, which is a banana wrapped with lefse, deep fried, and topped with a scoop of ice cream.  You non Minnesotans will want to know that lefse is sort of a cross between a tortilla and a crepe, but made with potatoes. Quite tasty actually.

Obviously, we humans eat  with varied ends in mind.  Sometimes for survival, sometimes out of religious custom or philosophical belief and sometimes, as at a state fair, just for fun.  And on this new blog, I and other members  of our community will note and comment upon our culture, with an emphasis on our food culture, but  with excursions into other topics which  seem relevant and interesting.  Please feel free to  comment.

Gary Alinder, September 7, 2009

Later Note:  Those of you with delicate stomachs may not care to watch the video!  It shows an amazing array of foods on a stick you could consume at the Minnesota State Fair. Sad or hilarious?  You decide.

2 responses

  1. Who eats food like that? No one I know, in this life I have now or the world in which I live. V.V. need to call me if he wants me to attend… anyway I have school that night. I will not attend.


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