Faceoff: Southern Minnesota

Amy Eggert

Amy Eggert

I come from the land of sky blue waters, the Jolly Green Giant, and the world’s largest man-made ball of twine. It’s true, I am a Minnesotan. And I’m damn proud of it, don’tcha know. We gave the world spam, Target and scotch tape. It’s the home of the world famous Mayo Clinic, the Guthrie Theatre and of course, the Mall of America. We elected a former professional wrestler to the governorship. Well, nobody’s perfect. Our 12-day state fair has the largest daily attendance of all state fairs. Thousands of people show up daily to wander the fairgrounds and eat food on a stick. We’re not afraid to put a candy bar on a stick, batter it and deep fry it. In 2006, hotdish was finally put on a stick.

That’s right, hotdish, not casserole. The old hotdish/casserole debate is a source of contention for many Minnesotans. We’re nice, friendly people, and we just want to show our neighbors in nearby states the error of their ways. I fully admit a dish known as casserole exists; it’s just not a catch all. Hotdish must contain four basic ingredients: a starch, such as noodles or potatoes; a protein, usually ground beef; a binding agent, normally cream of mushroom soup; and vegetables of some sort. Without these four, it is not a hotdish, and may in fact, be casserole. The only casserole I had growing up was the holiday favorite green bean casserole. A quick glance will show that there is no meat; therefore it is not a hotdish. As clear-cut as my definition is, it is not accepted statewide. Almost every Minnesotan makes, and defines, hotdish just a little differently. I’ve heard that casseroles have layers, hotdishes do not. Or the complete opposite. One thing is for sure: Minnesotans eat hotdish more often than casserole.

The other main difference I’ve noticed in my four years here, besides my elongated o’s, is a major difference in a certain childhood game. Where I come from, the children merrily play “duck, duck, gray duck,” not “duck, duck, goose.” To this day, “duck, duck, goose” still confuses me. When playing “duck, duck, gray duck,” the person who is ‘it’ is free to name the people whatever kind of duck they want. Maybe they look like a purple duck, a banana duck, a polka-dot duck, DUCK DUCK GRAY DUCK!!! You had to stay on your toes and pay attention. Some kids would be even trickier and start every time with duck duck. I think it’s a shame that the poor children of South Dakota are not encouraged to be creative. They are becoming drones, trudging around the circle, “duck, duck, duck, duck, goose.” It lacks the flair, the excitement of “duck, duck, gray duck.”

Don’t get me wrong, South Dakota is ? nice. You sure got that roadside attraction thing down! And Brookings is ? good. I mean, the Campanile is so tall it needs a light on it. That’s pretty impressive.

Oh, and one more thing, a tavern is a place to eat, drink and be merry, not a sandwich. That would be a sloppy joe. A barbeque should involve shredded pork that’s been simmering for three days, whereas a sloppy joe is a delicious mixture of ground beef, ketchup, barbeque sauce and maybe some mustard or onions.

Don’t worry you SoDakians, because as former President Peggy Gordon Miller taught me, you can go anywhere from here, even Minnesota.

#1.883004:2987100544.jpg:eggert,amy.jpg:Amy Eggert, Southern Minnesota: