Sure, we're a state known for eating lye cured fish for holidays, but New York Times columnist and cookbook author David Tanis wrote that the nation was "scoured" for regional Thanksgiving recipes. When it came to Minnesota Tanis writes, "This grape salad, which falls into the same category of old-fashioned party dishes as molded Jell-O salad, comes from a Minnesota-born heiress, who tells me it was always part of the holiday buffet in her family."
Which brought a collective, "What?" from the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Who is this heiress and when did she live here? Why does she eat so poorly and spread these filthy, filthy lies? We eat hotdish festooned with tater tots and dubiously spelled hamburgers stuffed with cheese. What is this grape dish of which they speak and why for the love of Babe the Blue Ox would anyone eat that?
Hey, you know what evokes your state? YOUR FACE.
The article enthuses, "It couldn’t be simpler to prepare and has only three ingredients: grapes, sour cream and brown sugar." Then there was the gag heard 'round the country. We residents, so used to issuing forth noncommittal judgements such as, "It's not my favorite" and "well, that's different," went on the offensive across all media platforms.
Today James Beard Award winning food writer and local critic Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl wrote as only she can, "J'accuse! This is not from a Minnesota heiress. Pecans = the south, grapes = California, even sour cream is more likely from Wisconsin than Minnesota. I'm going to guess this is from an heiress from the fabled land of Mindianapolis, who rides through the land on a silver chariot pulled by golden weasels." She graciously recommends dishes that would be better representative of our state at the Thanksgiving table.
This is from an heiress from the fabled land of Mindianapolis, who rides through the land on a silver chariot pulled by golden weasels.
Star Tribune's taste editor Lee Svitak Dean recoiled in horror, "After 20 years as food editor at the Minneapolis Star Tribune, I can tell you I've never even heard of this recipe."
MyTalk 107.1 radio personalities Bradley Traynor and Colleen Lindstrom devoted airtime on their show stir the outrage, urging listeners to use the Twitter hashtag #embracethegrape to get Tanis to appear on their show. Their listeners are now sending in pictures of grapes all over every damn thing from recreating the famous cherry spoonbridge sculpture to teabagging them in giant Midwestern-sized mugs.
Linda Holmes of National Public Radio, herself a Minnesotan transplant huffed, "It's enough to make a nice Midwestern-by-training girl put her hands on her hips and say, 'Hey, you know what evokes your state? YOUR FACE.'"
David Carr, one time Minneapolotan and current New York Times columnist fumed, "May a hail of tater tots mercilessly bury you. Where do I start the petition?"
The kerfuffle has reached such epic proportions that even New York Times food editor Sam Sifton went on the defensive.
Which prompted a thoughtful olive branch (not covered in sour cream) from New York Times Midwestern correspondent.
One thing is certain, do not tell a Minnesotan what weird food stuff they like. Simply allowed us to blissfully wrap our pickles in cream cheese and lunch meat and send us on our chilly way.
UPDATE: In a blog post titled, "A Recipe for Wrath" on the New York Times, Margaret Sullivan writes that this was an "epic recipe fail." She reached out to Sifton for a proper explanation.
It seems the paper was simply running low on dish options. Wisconsin had wild rice (hello missed cheese plate opportunity) and North Dakota got lefse (okay, they don't have much to choose from), there were plenty of proteins and side dishes and heck - somebody had to have a salad!
He maintains that grape salad, "“has a rich history in the upper Midwest, although it is an old recipe and it’s out of fashion.”
Meanwhile back in Minnesota, in addition to the 3-6 brave souls who admit to have encountering such a salad in their personal culinary lore, one chef has promised to bring it to the menu. Chef de cuisine of La Belle Vie, Michael DeCamp will give the people what they never asked to eat, his version of the much maligned dairy and fruit debacle.