The Minnesota Farm Woman

Minnesota Farm Womanby Chris Quaal Vinson

Embracing the grape

The New York Times recently published an article on regional Thanksgiving favorites in which the author apparently “scoured” the nation and got a recipe from a Minnesota-born heiress for grape salad. This salad is a simple concoction of grapes, sour cream, and brown sugar, sometimes topped with nuts and broiled, sometimes not. From what I have been reading, Minnesota is in an uproar over this supposed tradition, so much so that blogs all across America are making mention of it. It is easy enough to explain, though. Whoever wrote the article has no idea about Minnesota traditions. He may not even realize that here in the northern part of the state, which the USDA calls Zone 3, we can grow only three types of grapes out of approximately 3000 different varieties. No, I didn’t do any scientific research to come up with these numbers, any more than he did any research on the favorite food traditions of Minnesota. I have never actually harvested any grapes, but I do get plenty of vines and leaves. I add the leaves to my pickles to make them crispy, and these homemade pickles grace our table each holiday. I dare anyone to find a Minnesota Thanksgiving table without at least one type of pickle. We even pickle our fish! If he came to dinner at any number of homes, and after passing the pickles, looked to the left and looked to the right, he would see no heiresses. I don’t think anyone in Minnesota even uses the word “heiress”. We are simple folks who eat like we are wealthy even when we’re not. Many cooks serve good wholesome vegetables “put up” from summer gardens. Since we are one of the nation’s largest producers of turkey (turkey recipes were given to several other states), we might enjoy that, venison, beef, or pork as a main dish. Along side would be a wild rice hotdish (wild rice was given to our neighbor, The Dairy State and no, I don’t make this stuff up) jello salad (perhaps with a few grapes but more likely, cranberries, canned fruit, or shredded carrots), mashed potatoes, gravy, and pie of any sort. Minnesotans love pie. The content you are trying to access is only available to members. Sorry.

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