Walleye is the state fish in a state where everyone fishes. It is flakey, light, and delicious. If you visit during lent you MUST MUST MUST hit up a fish fry at the VFW for all you can eat Walleye slathered in tartar sauce, ketchup and lemon.
2. Tater tot hotdish
Imagine trudging around outside in -30 weather (an unfortunate reality in a polar vortex world). When you finally get inside, you need a dinner that’s going to make you feel warm again. Enter hotdish. Hotdish with crispy tater tots lining the top and beef, green beans and corn inside, held together by cream of mushroom soup. This is how you survive winter.
From our Scandinavian ancestors comes the most delicious of carbs: lefse. It’s a soft, paper thin bread that you can eat in a variety of ways. I prefer to spread butter on it, sprinkle on some sugar and then roll it up and eat it as dessert.
4. Swedish Meatballs
You may have noticed a trend in this list: all food in Minnesota is a shade of white. Color isn’t exactly our forte. The meatballs are made from ground beef, chopped onions and breadcrumbs and are served with gravy over mashed potatoes with lingonberry jam and pickled cucumbers on the side. For extra Minnesota points and a yummier texture, I sometimes put Minnesota wild rice in the meatballs.
You eat this gelatinous fish lump one time, for the story. It does not taste good.
A time honored tradition in Minnesota culture is deer hunting season where most of the men I know disappear for long weekends and the women who aren’t into hunting are left to host wine-fueled girls nights in empty homes. The best part is that if you’re chill with a carcass or two hanging in your garage you’ll have a freezer full of fresh venison all year long. My favorites: venison steak, venison jerky, and venison sausages (the breakfast of champions).
7. Grain belt beer
There’s a ton of breweries in Minnesota and my favorite beer here is probably Summit IPA but I will always feel the most loyalty toward Grain Belt. It’s an iconic part of Minneapolis and I feel so chic and working class when I drink it.
Of all Minnesota foods this one is the closest to my heart. It’s a community tomato-based stew that you cook outside in a giant drum. It typically requires a group of people to make it because of how many vegetables you have to cut up. It’s commonly used as a fundraiser for local fire departments. My sister served it at her wedding, because we’re a classy family.
9. Something on a stick
The Minnesota state fair is basically held for the sole purpose of inventing zany foods that you can put on a stick. Forget corn dogs, we are talking Snickers on a stick, spaghetti on a stick, beer on a stick, and my favorite, Northwoods salad on-a-stick (mozzarella cheese and cherry tomatoes over chilled wild rice).
10. A mayonnaise-based “salad”
The irony of mayo-based salads is not lost on us, but at every family gathering there are an assortment of Jello salads, salads that contain cut-up snickers bars, and salads that are 90% mayo. In fact, if a salad looks too healthy, you might kindly remind the cook that she must have forgotten a “mayonnaise layer.”
Oh geez, everyone in Minnesota loves a good bar.