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Today on the chat, zmj kiddingly said that Midwest (in the U.S.) foods were hamburgers and potato salad. It made me think, though, does the Midwest have any special foods? Would steak houses be specific to the Midwest?

If you think about it, the South has grits and southern fried chicken and fried green tomatoes and collards and much more.

The Northeast has clam chowder and lobster and clam bakes.

The West coast is known for California rolls and organic foods and Ghiradelli chocolate and sour dough bread and more.

The Southwest of course is known for Mexican food and chiles and Tex-Mex food.

I guess you could say Chicago is known for deep dish pizza and Chicago hot dogs.

But is the Midwest known for anything more than beef?
 
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Corn?

Does Idaho count as the Midwest? If so, what about potatoes? What about Wisconsin? That is known for cheese.


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Idaho is considered West.

I'd never heard of California rolls.


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I'd never heard of California rolls.

That's when you coast through a STOP sign.
 
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Is Iowa in the Midwest?

If yes, then pork.
 
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Yes, Iowa is in the Midwest, but pork is more associated with Washington, D.C, where all the government types do their stuff.

How about Great Britain? Do Cornish hens come from Cornwall? Does spotted dick come from a Brit's trip to France? Eek


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Iowa is definitely known for pork though.

Alfred Hitchcock is more known for directing than Stsnley Kubrick. Does that mean that Stanley Kubrick is not known for directing?

I don't know whether Cornish Hens come form Cornwall (they probably just have holiday homes there.) But I gather that turkeys aren't from Turkey. (Very suspicious of them, I think.)
 
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You don't get lubricants from Greece, and there isn't a spate of crossdressers in Transyvania.
 
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And Britain ain't really that great.
 
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there isn't a spate of crossdressers in Transyvania.

Oh, they're there; they just haven't come out of the woods yet.


It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society. -J. Krishnamurti
 
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Michigan (granted barely in the Midwest) had good German food when I lived there [back in the stone age]. Something hard to find east of Lancaster Pa. In fact, most of our suggestions for Midwestern specialties are standard picnic fare in rural/agricultural areas where German settlers predominated.
 
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Idaho is considered West.

I'd never heard of California rolls.
Ah, but you're from Indiana.

I forgot about Northern food, such as venison and elk and bison.

I suppose the Wisconsin cheese and the midwestern beef all count. Still, the midwest doesn't seem as clear as the rest of the country.

Alphabet, do certain areas of England have different foods? Like London vs. Birmingham vs. Manchester? When I think of English food I think of Shepherd's pie and ploughman's lunch...foods like that. They're probably just commercialized examples, though, right?
 
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We're not best known for our cuisine and, in my opinion, British food isn't especially spectacular. But there are regional specialites. The British are quite good at cheese and these are frequently regional - Wensleydale, Cheshire, Cheddar, Caerphilly - these are all locations in Britain and also cheeses originating in those places.

And different towns and counties are associated with different signature dishes. For example, Lancashire Hot Pot is a kind of stew, famous across the nation thanks to the soap opera Coronation Street. You may have heard the word 'scouse' or 'scouser' to describe Liverpudlians. Well scouse is another traditional stew, native to Liverpool. Birmingham, not far from Bob's home, is probably best known for balti* - a British Indian curry dish. London is associated with jellied eels, although not many people actually eat them any more. And Glasgow, poor maligned Glasgow, is notorious for its deep fried Mars Bars.

But while there are different local dishes, I think we'd be hard pushed to claim that we actually have regional cuisines.

*Although Bob would know more about that than I do.

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Don't forget that Great Britain is much smaller than the USA. Before the advent of modern transport there were plenty of regional dishes, but many have disappeared, and most of those remaining are hardly regional any more, since they're cooked and eaten all over the country. Scouse, mentioned by Alphabet Soup, is probably one of the few exceptions in that it's not often eaten outside Liverpool (apart from by those native Liverpudlians who've moved out of the city).

Oh - and deep-fried Mars bars aren't seen outside Scotland, thank goodness! Roll Eyes


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Originally posted by arnie:


Oh - and deep-fried Mars bars aren't seen outside Scotland, thank goodness! Roll Eyes

They were a fad here too, but then Scots settled much of this country. Maybe it's a genetic weirdness. Roll Eyes


It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society. -J. Krishnamurti
 
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I've never seen deep-fried food like they have in the south. Look at some of these! !
 
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Originally posted by Kalleh:
I've never seen deep-fried food like they have in the south. Look at some of these! !

Ack! My heart!

I rather fancy trying another southern delicacy I read about on the interwebs, pickles steeped in kool-aid. They sound quite astonishing.
 
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There was an article about a state fair in the midwest that had...get this...fried butter sticks! Talk about your heart!
 
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I saw it! (I very nearly posted it here.) Don't they look remarkable.
 
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The Midwest is hard to pin down for what states we encompass, let alone what foods we eat most. I think many of the traditionally German-influenced things like sausage and potatoes works, but in the town where I grew up, there was a large and active Italian population, and it's known for great Italian food. Cleveland has some great Ukranian and Polish- influenced food. Columbus is becoming very eclectic, and I can find restaurants owned and operated by native Somali, Indian, Ethiopian, German, Japanese, Chinese, Mexican, Polish and Vietnamese within 5 miles of my house.

Maybe we are best known, as a region, for basic "meat and potatoes".


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Also, I find it odd how many states think they are in the midwest. Since I work with the states, all the way from North Dakota to Oklahoma to West Virginia consider themselves midwesterners. Strange.
 
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Yes, and some people think of Pennsylvania as an East Coast state, which I suppose a very small, small portion is, but the PA I know is midwest all the way.


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I think of PA as being East Coast, but a place's geography doesn't always describe its tastes and/or customs.

Good to see you again, CW!


It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society. -J. Krishnamurti
 
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I agree with CW that "meat and potatoes" characterizes the Midwest. I was born in Kansas and spent my first 7 years there before moving to Washington. My dad was from Kansas and my mother was from Louisiana, so my diet was a mixture of Midwestern and Southern food, smothered in grease. Meat and potatoes was very much a staple.

I've never heard of Pennsylvania being considered part of the Midwest. I think of it as part of the East (which doesn't mean much). The US Census Bureau classifies PA as a mid-Alantic state in the Northeast Region. The Midwest Region consists of 12 states: Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio (collectively the East North Central Region), and Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Minnesota, Iowa (the West North Central Region).

Most of the Midwest is in the eastern U.S., so why is it call the Midwest? Wikipedia says:
quote:
History of the term Midwest
As this region lies mostly in the eastern half of the United States, the term "Midwest" can be misleading if one does not understand American history.

The term West was applied to the region in the early years of the country. In 1789, the Northwest Ordinance was enacted, creating the Northwest Territory, which was bounded by the Great Lakes and the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. Because the Northwest Territory lay between the East Coast and the then-far-West, the states carved out of it were called the "Northwest". In the early 19th century, anything west of the Mississippi River was considered the West, and the Midwest was the region east of the Mississippi and west of the Appalachians. In time, some users began to include Minnesota, Iowa and Missouri in the Midwest.

With the settlement of the western prairie, the new term Great Plains States was used for the row of states from North Dakota to Kansas. Later, these states also came to be considered Midwest by some.

The states of the "old Northwest" are now called the "East North Central States" by the United States Census Bureau and the "Great Lakes" region by some of its inhabitants, whereas the states just west of the Mississippi and the Great Plains states are called the "West North Central States" by the Census Bureau. Today people as far west as eastern Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana, sometimes identify themselves with the term Midwest.[37]

Some parts of the Midwest are still referred to as "Northwest" for historical reasons – for example, Northwestern University in Illinois – so the Northwest region of the country is called the "Pacific Northwest" to make a clear distinction.


I never thought of the Dakotas being part of the Midwest, but they are according to the Census Bureau (but not according to most dictionaries I've seen). Here's how the OED Online defines it:
quote:
Midwest
An area of the United States originally comprising central states west of the Ohio River and east of the Missouri, and now often including also states as far west as the Rocky Mountains and as far south as Oklahoma.


yourdictionary.com - Midwest

Midwest - AHD

Midwest - thefreedictionary.com

Midwestern United States - Wikipedia

List of regions of the United States: Interstate regions - Wikipedia

Regions of the United States: Regions Defined

Census Regions and Divisions of the United States

The Nine Nations of North America - Wikipedia article about a book written in 1981 by Joel Garreau in which he suggests that North America can be divided into nine regions ("nations")

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I've never heard of Pennsylvania being considered part of the Midwest.
I don't think it is.

My organization has 4 areas (midwest, east, west and south), and mostly the groupings seem right to me. North and South Dakota are in our midwest area, though Pennsylvania is in our east area. However, I will never understand how West Virginia is included in our midwest area.
 
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While Pennsylvania is not technically part of the Midwest, the part which borders on Ohio sure looks, feels, and seems Midwestern to this Farwesterner. The same goes for West Virginia. I have only been in the West Virginia panhandle, or at least the part which is just across the Ohio River from Steubenville.


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Not to this midwesterner. Indeed, I begin to see the midwest fade as I drive across Ohio and then into Pennsylvania. The beauty and hilliness of Pennsylvania just isn't like the steel and flatness of the midwest, in my humble opinion.
 
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As a native Ohioan, I always thought Ohio was part of the Midwest, but when I took my first job out of college at a newspaper in Upstate New York and called myself a Midwesterner to new friends there who were from Nebraska and Missouri, they laughed at me! Still, I insisted that Ohio was in the eastern Midwest, and still think so. And I agree with all of you who said that German food or meat, sausage and potatoes are typical Midwestern foods. Plus corn on the cob, fresh tomatoes and Graeter's Ice Cream!

Interestingly, historically, my hometown of Cincinnati was known as "The Queen City of the West" in the early 19th century.

As for Pennsylvania, where I now live, it is most definitely an Eastern state, and we would say Mideastern, except we don't, so it is Mid-Atlantic. It is not quite on the coast, but its largest city, Philadelphia, sits at the confluence of Delaware and Schuylkill rivers, which feed into the Delaware Bay of the Atlantic Ocean at Wilmington, Delaware, just a few miles south.

I'll concede that Western PA is very Midwestern in feel, but let's not Balkanize the place! As James Carville once famously said, "Pennsylvania is Philadelphia and Pittsburgh and Alabama in between." But we are all one commonwealth.

Wordmatic
 
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I learned this weekend, while in Ohio, that only the coastal states are in the "West" or the "East." The rest, with the exception of the southern states, are all in the midwest. I'd say (excepting AL and HI) there are about 10 southern states, 4 western states, 14 eastern states and 20 midwestern states. Roll Eyes
 
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Like many words, the meaning of Midwest has changed over the years or meant different things to different people. The Wikipedia article has some nice maps and discusses what states are in the Midwest (link). I particularly like how the Old Northwest (link) became the core of the Midwest. (I know that Tinman published a bunch of links, too, including at least one of my two, but after getting back from the Midwest on Sunday (on a flight out of the East), I revisited some of the online resources.


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Here's what Wiki has to say about the term.

I think part of the mixup is due to what comprised the United States at various times in history. Once upon a time the Mississippi was the "West" but then the Louisiana Purchase extened our borders even more. Each expansion made the "Midwest" just a little larger until we hit The Pacific. Then the Midwest took in almost the entire country without a coastline.
 
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It's time to retire the term. It's also called the "Bible Belt," although that also includes the Southern states, or the "Rust Belt," but most of the industry of the region has gone. I say we just call it the "Middle" and be done with it.


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The Bible Belt's more southern.
 
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They're plenty likely to belt you with a bible around here too. As many churches as taverns.


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the "Bible Belt,"

About the only place the Bible Belt (link) and the Midwest overlap is Missouri.

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It really dusts my doilies (love that phrase) that people on the east and west coast see the "midwest" as the Bible Belt, or red-necked, or majorly conservative, really religious, or whatever. It is not the case. Mad

Now, onto a lighter subject...I was trying to come up with the U.S. territories today, and a fairly well-educated person was helping me. "Bermuda?", she said. That was at least possible, I suppose. But then..."Hawaii?" Oh. my. (It's a good thing Jerry isn't around!)

[When I say "fairly well-educated," I mean this person has graduated from bachelor's and master's programs. However, obviously the individual is not well educated.]
 
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As a foreigner, I have no knowledge or opinion of what states constitute the Midwest, and have been following this thread with some amusement. It's interesting that the original post was about Midwest foods and most of the subsequent posts were OT to some degree by seeking to define "Midwest", and hardly mentioning food at all. Smile


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OK, arnie, back on topic, within ten miles of where I sit there are several CAFOs (confined animal feeding operations) which raise hogs and beef, two staples of this region, in what I consider to be atrocious conditions. Corn-fed, naturally, since corn fields abound here.


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Several years ago we were driving along Route 95 in Connecticut and stopped at a restaurant outside Bridgeport. I ordered French fries and asked the waitress for some vinegar and catsup. She brought the catsup but inquired what the vinegar was for. She couldn't believe it when I told her it was to put on the fries. Since then I've learned there is a line somewhere west of New Haven where vinegar is never used on fries while it is always used east of that point, at least in my experience.
 
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I [...] have been following this thread with some amusement. It's interesting that the original post was about Midwest foods and most of the subsequent posts were OT to some degree by seeking to define "Midwest", and hardly mentioning food at all.

Since I was involved (by name) in the OT, I figure I could respond to it in any way I wanted to. Figuring out what constitutes the Midwest goes a long ways in identifying the foods thereof. Anyway, having just returned from Ohio, a lot of the restaurants are what are called "family restaurants", i.e., places where you can take the whole family without fear that they might be introduced to the cuisine of foreigners. Steak and potatoes, pasta with red sauce, wings. There was a place near the motel that was called Quaker Steak and Lube. They were proud of their wings, which seemed to be chicken nuggets. On the Left Coast, I feel overweight; in Ohio I felt downright skinny.

With the help of review sites on the Web, I was able to find a rather good Vietnamese restaurant. At the family gathering I attended, we had (and I enjoyed) hamburgers, hot dogs, potato salad, fried chicken, pasta salad, soda (wine and beer were available), and nisu (a sweet bread, braided, with cardamom). Most of the meals I had in restaurants were good, but there was little variety.


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Originally posted by zmježd:


Anyway, having just returned from Ohio, a lot of the restaurants are what are called "family restaurants", i.e., places where you can take the whole family without fear that they might be introduced to the cuisine of foreigners.

ROFLMAO!!! Big Grin Big Grin Big Grin

Sue's mother turned 91 last Sunday (Easy date to remember nowadays if you're in the USA) and we took her to the "best" restaurant in Marion, Indiana, Bob Evans. About the only thing on the menu that didn't have dead pig in it was ice cream. And no wonder! They started in business as an Ohio hog farm.

BTW, I learned while there that the term, "Hog" referring to a Harley-Davidson motorcycle originated in Marion. It fits most of their riders, not just the machines.


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Bob Evans

I had never heard of this restaurant until I got to my motel near the Pittsburgh airport, while in transit for the Midwest. I had to park in the Bob Evans parking lot as the motel parking lot was in overflow condition. As it was a few minutes past midnight they were closed so I couldn't browse their menu. Speaking of strange things to put pork in, Altoid mints contain pork gelatin or some such derivative. (Saw this on some vegan FAQ.)


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My wife was thoroughly embarrassed during one trip to the Rockies when a waiter explained to her exactly what "Rocky Mountain Oysters" were made from.
 
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Since then I've learned there is a line somewhere west of New Haven where vinegar is never used on fries while it is always used east of that point, at least in my experience.

I grew up in Youngstown, Ohio, and was raised to always put vinegar on french fries - especially the shoestring fries we used to get at the local outdoor fairs, football games and other events. Yum! I don't recall seeing too many fry stands that don't have vinegar available with their condiments here in Columbus, Ohio, either.

I know that Ohio isn't a place that people think of as being eclectic or fancy. And although I sometimes like to visit Bob Evans and Quaker Steak and Lube (which was actually started in an old gas station in Pennsylvania, and not in Ohio), they are not the kinds of places I would choose to represent what I like to eat.

However, I noticed in my travels across Canada and the US states last year that the variety of food choices available depended more on the population of the town than anything else. Also, the general gourmet-ness of the food was always a crap shoot. We always had the best luck (and it always cost more - much more) when we went to locally-owned, non-franchised places.

I'm fortunate to live in the largest city in Ohio, with several internationally acclaimed colleges and universities around that draw people from all over the world, and consequently their delicious cuisines. If y'all are up for another WordCraft gathering sometime soon, let me know, and I can set up a Foodie WordCraft Weekend!

Also, if you want to read my blog about our family trip in June, 2010, it's here.


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Several years ago, we printed a book for Reader's Digest about the USA. Each state had something unique ascribed to it and Rhode Island was famous for coffee milk. Actually, for coffee ice cream which was favored over the national choice, vanilla.

Rhode Islanders who move to other states have been known to pay outrageous shipping charges to have cases of the syrup delivered to their new homes after finding the flavor was not available in their ill-chosen habitat.

We were in LAX one day and the waitress looked at me like I had two heads when I asked for coffee milk. "Did you mean coffee with cream, dearie?" she inquired. I tried to explain but the concept of milk with coffee flavoring escaped her. Poor thing. She'll probably never know the pleasure of a nice coffee milkshake.
 
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I'm fortunate to live in the largest city in Ohio, with several internationally acclaimed colleges and universities around that draw people from all over the world, and consequently their delicious cuisines.
I feel that way about Chicago, too, CW. I just love all the different neighborhoods and all the diverse food.
 
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