People on the coasts often have no idea how to categorize 60% of the states between New York and California, so they do what they can with the terms West, Midwest, and Southern.
As a result, Oklahoma is often incorrectly lumped in with Midwestern states, a classification that makes sense geographically but not culturally. When I hear Midwest, I think of Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, etc., places that don’t have the hard-working prairie ethic instilled in them from their mothers’ breast milk as we do in Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska.
I prefer to call my region the Central Plains, but for the purposes of this blog series, I will accommodate the ignorance of outsiders and call these great states part of the Midwest.
Imagine a people sprawled under a sky that scorches them in the summer and dumps snow and ice on them during the winter. In the spring, tornadoes and hail demolish homes and crops. There is no mercy: you will farm or become food for the farm.
Because fresh vegetables wither in all seasons (to be explained later), and dairy and carbs must pull up the slack. Bacon grease is a health supplement. People die at the age of 60, but they die having eaten egg yolks and butter their entire life. Healthy eating is a foreign imposition by people on the coasts, and God bless America.*
What kind of food do these people eat? What flavors, textures, and cooking methods typify their everyday noshes? How can they survive the blazing summers and bone-cracking winters?
The people of the Central Plains are ingenious. They have invented a cuisine that not only allowed them to deal with their harsh surroundings, but took the cooking out of cooking altogether. From the Midwest come an astonishing variety of casseroles, truly unique takes on the salad, and all different kinds of ways to prepare, texture, and name a meatloaf. For this reason, the Midwest is known for its incredible cuisine. When people from other countries and the coasts imagine the great gap between D.C. and L.A., they inevitably think of the mouth-watering food that has made itself known across the world for its creativity, flavor, and health-benefits.
Cities like New York, Atlanta, Boston, San Francisco, and Portland are overrun with restaurants serving up hot casserole dishes and dinner rolls to eager clientele, and top chefs hail cream of chicken soup as a miracle liquid revealed by the Almighty.
For the next couple of posts, I will be talking about this wonderful cuisine, aided by two cookbooks that my mother recently gave me. Stay tuned next week to learn about the Midwestern casserole, the salad experience in the Midwest, and culinary highlights of Midwestern cookery. It’s sure to be an enlightening journey.
*Do I have “science” to back up these claims. No. But I have been to family reunions.
Emily, forget what I said about the jars of Teddie Super Chunky PB! I have come to the conclusion that you are in grave danger where you are right now, and your only hope is to escape ASAP!
Sometimes I think these things sound good too…..oh it’s getting to me. Soon I won’t be able to resist.
Yummy, Yummy, Yummy, keep it coming.
Another fresh batch comes up today.
I find it absolutely hilarious when people ask me where I’m from and when I tell them Kansas they have the deer in the headlights look. I don’t know how many times I’ve asked ‘do you know where Colorado is? It’s east of there’.
Haha–I knew a guy from New York and after being friends with him for four years he still didn’t know where Oklahoma was from.
We joke about New Yorkers who don’t know about anything west of the Hudson River. It’s actually true in many cases, which is disturbing. I’m from St. Louis, a not-so-little city (hello, it has three major sports team. Three!), and my husband is from Memphis (home of Elvis! That’s for sure famous), and I’ve met New Yorkers who get that glazed over look in their eyes when they realize that we’re from places that are, well, somewhere “out of town.”
Of course, for many years, I thought Colorado was up by the Dakotas, so what do I know about geography.
That casserole is all kinds of wrong which means it tastes all kinds of RIGHT.
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LOL. I love this post. I live in the Northland, and we only use the word casserole if it’s preceded by “green bean.” Otherwise, it’s “hotdish” all the way. Uff-da!
oooo….I love these regional differences. One day all communications are going to break down and the linguistic and cultural variations are going to skyrocket. Bring on the end, I say.
What in God’s Name is that… a CornDog Casserole? If so, I’m there!
Not if I eat it first!
Well hello!! I just wanted to tell you that I really like your blog; especially your sense of humor!! I too love to cook and am always on the look for comfort foods and the memories associated with them. I think it’s so cool how certain foods, surroundings, sounds and smells can take us back and we can kinda relive those comfy feelings. On that note, I wanted to let you know that I have NOMINATED YOU for the VERSATILE BLOGGER AWARD!!!! Congratulations, my dear!!! Very DESERVED!!!! There are some rules which I’ve posted on my site. Just hop on over and it’s easy just to copy and paste the 1-5 steps for easier reference. Well enjoy!!! Revel in this!!! You deserve it!!!! Copy and paste that award onto your site now!!! Post it proudly!!!! Keep those posts coming!!!!
Thanks so much! I have to say I’m flattered, honored, and thankful for the nomination. I just put another batch of blog posts in the oven and they should be done soon….tomorrow some time I believe.
Thanks for reading!
It’s true. I’m from Virginia/North Carolina, which is not the East Coast but the South. My family’s from Kansas, which is not the Midwest, but the Central Plains. And now I live in Northern California which does not and never will begin at San Francisco! I’ve actually heard people out here call Chicago the East Coast. Did we all fail geography?
It’s hopeless. The fact none of us know what regions are called goes to show America is too big, or our knowledge about other places is too limited. It’s one or the other.