For those who have lain awake many a night wondering what Minnesota’s state muffin is, rest easy: it’s blueberry. But there’s more, much more. Officially, Walleye, milk, wild rice and morel mushrooms all earn mention, as does (unofficially) SPAM, which originates here, and Betty Crocker products. And thanks to a history that includes European, African, Latin American and Asian immigrants, you can bet that modern Minnesota’s culinary scene is respectably multi-cultural, particularly around the Twin Cities area.
Outside of this metropolitan center, farm land dominates the landscape, but agriculture is just one of the reasons the Minnesota State Fair draws such a following; visitors flock in the millions to this annual event also for the butter sculptures, cheese curds, snacks “on-a-stick” (like bacon fried and carmelized with maple syrup or chocolate covered watermelon), big game bratwurst, elk burgers, Scandinavian lefse and other specialty fair fare. Hang around a small town long enough and you may earn an invite to a local potluck, where hot dishes (casseroles) generally set the scene, but also look for delectable Minnesota grown sweet corn (available in season at a nearby Farmer’s Market, if not at the potluck) and potato-crusted Walleye before foraging on to greener pastures.
With that thought in mind, be sure to give the state’s dairies their due, responsible for keeping Minnesotans stocked with cheeses, fresh butter, milk and ice cream. Some can be visited on tours, but by and large their products are on sale at a Minnesota store near you.
Based around the St. Paul and Minneapolis metro area? Expect to find a well-rounded list of ethnic eateries on hand to supplement more traditional American restaurants, some of which offer a frothy glass of 1919 Draft Root Beer on tap, hangover-free.