Cuisine of the Midwestern United States (2)
In Missouri, much of the cuisine is influenced by that of the
Ozarks. Barbecue, both pork and beef, is popular in both St. Louis
and Kansas City, as well as in much of the Southern half of the
state. In the bootheel, the favored food tends to be distinctly
is in this part of the state that sweet tea is readily
available everywhere. Missouri also leans heavily on beer and
bratwurts, and St. Louis features the "brain sandwich", the
"St. Paul Sandwich", toasted ravioli, St. Louis-style pizza,
gooey butter-cake, and many other cuisines that are popular
throughout the state. Chinese food is also very popular in the
state, with Springfield being a big example.
Fishing is a very popular sport throughout the state, with the
presence of Missouri's many rivers and lakes, and like in
Wisconsin, many fish fry events are popular throughout the state
featuring catfish and large-mouthed bass. Like many of its fellow
Midwestern states, Missouri is at the forefront of corn and
soybean production, and items such as corn-on-the cob, mashed
potatoes, basically a typical Midwestern meal, are very popular
throughout the state.
The middle of the state, known as the "Missouri Rhineland",
lies along the valley of the Missouri River, and is known for its
Illinois is a top producer of corn and soybeans, but corn,
particularly sweet corn, figures most substantially in its
cuisine. Chicago-style foods tend to dominate in Northeastern
Illinois, while other parts of the state mirror adjoining regions.
Springfield, Illinois, and the surrounding area are known for
the horseshoe sandwich.
A popular dish seen almost exclusively in Indiana is sugar
cream pie, which most likely originated in the state's Amish
community. Persimmon pudding is also a favorite Indiana dessert
very difficult to find outside of the Hoosier State.
The pork tenderloin sandwich is a popular state food. Beef and
noodles is another homespun Hoosier dish.
Frogs' legs are traditional in old-fashioned Indiana
restaurants, and brain sandwiches have a following. Fried biscuits
with apple butter are served at many restaurants in southern
Indiana, as are fried-brain sandwiches.
The cuisine of Iowa includes the pork tenderloin sandwich,
consisting of a lean section of pork tenderloin that is pounded
flat, breaded, and deep fried before being served on a seeded
hamburger bun with any or all of ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, and
dill pickle slices.
The main ingredient of this dish bears a similarity to
schnitzel and may be related to the German immigrants who
originally populated central Iowa. Iowa is also the center for
creamed corn production and consumption.
Iowa is the center for loose-meat sandwiches, such as those
popularized by Maid-Rite, although they can also be found in
western Illinois, Indiana and Nebraska.
Western and northern Michigan are notable fruit-growing and
wine-making regions. The Northwestern region of Michigan's Lower
Peninsula accounts for approximately 75 percent of the U.S. crop
of tart cherries, usually about 250 million pounds.
immigrant miners introduced the pasty to Michigan's Upper
Peninsula (UP) as a convenient meal to take to work in the
numerous copper, silver, and nickel mines of that region. The
pasty is today considered iconic of the UP.
Perhaps the most iconic Minnesota dishes are lefse and
lutefisk, brought to the state with Scandinavian immigrants. Lefse
and lutefisk dinners are held near Christmas and have become
associated with that holiday. Lutefisk is a traditional dish of
the Nordic countries made from stockfish (air-dried whitefish) and
soda lye (lut). Walleye is the state fish of Minnesota and it is
common to find it on restaurant menus. Its popularity with
Minnesotans is such that the residents of the state consume more
of the fish than does any other jurisdiction. Battered and
deep-fried is a popular preparation for walleye, as is grilling.
Many restaurants will feature walleye on their Friday night fish
fry, which is popular at locales throughout the state.
Minnesota is known for its church potlucks, where hotdish is
often served. Hotdish is any of a variety of casserole dishes,
which are popular throughout the United States, although the term
"hotdish" is used mainly in Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota,
and South Dakota. Hotdishes are filling comfort foods that are
convenient and easy to make.
Bars are the second of the two essentials for potlucks in
Minnesota. According to You Know You're in Minnesota When...: 101
Quintessential Places, People, Events, Customs, Lingo, and Eats of
the North Star State by Berit Thorkelson, the bar is a Minnesota
staple and a "typical Minnesota dessert". Thorkelson notes that
bars are not included in Webster's Dictionary, and the word
pronunciation of the "ar" is with "a pirate-like arrr" followed by
a soft clipped s. Rice Krispie treats are considered bars in
Minnesota, but brownies are not.
The immigrants that settled in the state in the 1800s were
predominantly from Central and Eastern Europe (particularly
Germany) and Scandinavia. They brought with them taste preferences
that largely remain to this day. Those Minnesotans with this
Northern European ancestry, in general, avoid hot spices in favor
of earthy or aromatic spices.
Eggs, meat and potatoes are mainstay foods. Recipes using local
wild game such as bison, deer, or elk are also common. Warm baked
goods along with stews and hearty soups are also a favorite in the
winter given the extreme Minnesota climate. Other popular dishes
statewide include glorified rice, Jell-O salad, and krumkake.
The state is a productive area for chicken, dairy and turkey
farms and crops such as corn, soybeans, and sugar beets. It is
also a leading producer of wild rice.
A popular way to order pizza is "fold over" style. A fold over
pizza has a layer of crust on the bottom and on the top, with
typical pizza toppings in between. Unlike a calzone or turnover,
in which the ingredients are completely sealed in with dough, a
fold over resembles a sandwich.
Cincinnati-style chili is a dish consisting of spaghetti
noodles, a thin meat chili, covered with shredded cheese, as
served by Skyline Chili and others.
In the Cleveland area, a popular dish (apparently unheard of
outside the area) are Sauerkraut Balls. Sauerkraut Balls are
meatball-like snack foods eaten as appetizers or as bar food.
These were reportedly invented in Akron, Ohio, but are more
properly a derivative of the various ethnic cultures of Northeast
Ohio, which includes Akron and Greater Cleveland. A once-famous
but now closed restaurant in Vermilion, Ohio, was McGarvey's,
which was famous for its Sauerkraut Balls as well as for its
charismatic owner, Captain Eddie, and its location near the scenic
Clam bakes are more popular in Northeast Ohio than any other
region of the United States outside of New England. The region was
originally the Connecticut Western Reserve, and its first settlers
came from Connecticut and other New England states. A typical clam
bake in Northeast Ohio includes a dozen clams with a half chicken,
sweet potatoes, corn, and other side dishes. Seaweed is not used
and the clams, chicken, and sweet potatoes are all steamed
together in a large pot. The spelling "clambake" is usually
preferred in this part of the country.
The Friday night fish fry, typically fried perch or walleye, is
ubiquitous throughout Wisconsin, while in northeast Wisconsin
along Lake Michigan, the Door County fish boil holds sway.
Besides beer, Wisconsinites drink large quantities of brandy,
often mixed into the unique Badger libation, the "brandy Old
Fashioned sweet." The drink originated in 1947 at Chissy's Pub,
owned by Harry Chisholm, in Waldo, Wisconsin.
Seymour, Wisconsin, claims to be the birthplace of the modern
hamburger, although several other locations make similar claims.
The southern Wisconsin town of Racine is known for its Danish
Wisconsin is "America's Dairyland," and is home to numerous
frozen custard stands, particularly around Milwaukee and along the
Lake Michigan corridor, as well as many cheesemakers, ranging from
artisans who hand-craft their product from the milk of their own
dairy herds to large factories. Cheese curds are common as a snack
or fried as an appetizer.
Wisconsin is also well known for summer sausage and bratwurst.
These dishes, while not all exclusive to the Midwest, are
typical of Midwestern foods. Although many foods are shared with
other U.S. regions, they often feature uniquely Midwestern
- beef, especially steak, pot roast and prime rib
- bread-and-butter pickles
- beer cheese soup
- brain sandwiches
- cabbage roll, also known as stuffed cabbage
- cheese, including cheese curds
- Chicken Vesuvio
- Chicken paprikash
- cole slaw
- Coney Island hot dog
- diner fare
- Door County fish boil
- freshwater fish, including catfish, perch, trout, walleye
and whitefish and other panfish, often breaded and fried
- fried chicken
- frogs' legs
- frozen custard
- fruit, especially apples, blueberries, cherries,
cranberries, peaches and strawberries
- fruit wines
- fruit pies
- German potato salad
- head cheese
- horseshoe sandwich
- hotdish or casseroles
- ice cream cone
- Italian beef
- gyros (loaf-style)
- Jello salads
- Johnny Marzetti
- maple syrup
- morel mushrooms
- pea salad
- persimmon pudding
- pizza, with several regional styles
- potatoes, including mashed potatoes, potato pancakes, and
- roast beef
- sausage, including bratwurst, kielbasa, summer sausage,
ring bologna, and other ethnic types, as well as hot dogs,
with several regional styles
- sugar cream pie
- sweet corn, on the cob, in creamed corn and in corn relish
- wild rice