I spent nine years in Minnesota and two words have permanently been altered in my vocabulary: hotdish and bars. If you are not a mid-westerner, you may not fully appreciate the nuances of the Minnesotan “hotdish and bars” kind of dietary restrictions, so let me explain.
Hotdish describes any casserole-type concoction you can bind together with a can of condensed soup, cream of mushroom being the favorite. And bars would be cookies. Not bar cookies per se, cookies. These are the classic hallmarks of life in Minnesota. Oh sure, there’s the lefsa and lukefisk, but most transplants from the lovely land of ten thousand lakes are going to forego the “fish packed in lye” for other yummy items.
So if a group of transplanted Minnesotans were to get together for a Super Bowl party that didn’t include the Minnesota Vikings, they just might be inspired to celebrate the Super Bowl and what might have been with a festive Tater Tot Hotdish and yummy Toffee Bars. Throw in some pickled herring and jello salad, and you’ve got some happy folks regardless of the lack of purple showing at the Sun Life Stadium.
In case you are facing a change of address to include the snowy tundras of Minnesota, I am happy to supply you with some tools to make the transition a bit easier. It is possible to enjoy life in Minnesota, but it helps to plan ahead.
1. If asked to bring a “dish to pass/share” choose wisely. People who wear “choppers” (fur lined leather mittens) and “Sorels” (insulated boots) don’t do well with spice. If a recipe calls for jalapeno, substitute with something white.
2. If asked to bring bars to an event, brownies or chocolate chip cookies are still permissible. Of course, when is chocolate ever turned down?
3. Watch/re-watch the movie, “Fargo” a few times. It truly is enlightening. People really do sound like that. Just not all of them. Try not to stare when you encounter an authentic Minnesotan “You Betcha” speaker.
4. It gets cold in the winter. Really cold. Try to not complain about it. Instead, find interesting ways to discuss best practices for de-icing windshields and what items you keep in your “Winter Safety” car supplies. Again, chocolate is always a good choice because it is still quite tasty even when frozen.
5. It gets hot in the summer. Really hot. Try to not complain about it. Instead, find interesting ways to discuss techniques to cool your house when the air conditioning unit breaks while you are preparing for a dinner party with 40 guests. Frosty beverages on ice are a good choice. Plan for many per person.
6. If any said dinner guests are originally from Wisconsin, buy extra frosty beverages. Boy can those folks hydrate.
7. The state bird is a loon. The locals will say it is a mosquito. If the mosquito were more attractive, the State probably would have gone with it. Plan on having mosquito repellant in all vehicles, bags, backpacks, jackets, et cetera you use on a regular basis. You may reconsider your position on toxic chemicals.
8. Avoid sitting down-wind from anyone applying mosquito repellant while you are drinking a frosty beverage or eating hotdish. Just sayin’.
9. Try to move in either early fall or late spring. It helps to have some good memories of Minnesota weather before winter or summer arrive. And if snowflakes should fly on September 22nd, don’t be surprised if your exclamations of “Oh my g-d, it’s snowing!” are followed with “Aw, don’t worry. It won’t stick.”
10. Minnesotans love their teams. Sometimes it doesn’t really sound like they do, but they do. I can’t wait to see Favre in the 2020 Super Bowl.