Why I Can’t Get Behind the Latest Food Trend
The Food Channel calls Midwestern Food the #1 trend now. You wouldn’t say that if you thought of it the way I do. With cream of mushroom soup as the mirepoix of so many recipes? I’m not convinced it can compete on the world stage.
I know the Midwest has all those yummy American things. And it’s gotten a lot more haute since I was a kid. But when I think of the Midwest, I think of five-random-ingredient casseroles and aerosol cheese. I think of my grandma’s chipped beef on toast — even as a small child, I knew canned meat was wrong. My mom’s idea of a recipe was to jam swiss cheese into a split hot dog and broil it — okay, come to think of it, that one was pretty good.
But take Braunschweiger. I’ve never seen it anywhere but the Midwest, where it was strangely prized, at least by my relatives. I think they didn’t know any better. There are a lot of Germans in the Midwest, but they can’t possibly eat this gonads-and-lips version of liverWORST in Germany—not next to all those great sausages and cold cuts they could choose instead. Braunschweiger has got to be the foulest thing I’ve ever smelled let alone eaten. Is Braunschweiger a Midwestern thing?
The Midwest is really proud of how it deep-fries, but that’s cheating. Braunschweiger would taste good deep-fried. But silvery white corn on the cob in the Midwest, now that is something astonishing. At least it used to be. I hope they haven’t messed that up. I remember eating it on the screened porch watching the sky turn a mossy, disturbing green before a big thunderstorm, just before the lightning started ripping nitrogen and oxygen molecules to pieces. Is corn on the cob still splendid in the Midwest in August? I happen to know that Anna Wintour is having lunch with Roger Federer at Balthazar in SoHo this week, where the homemade corn and ricotta agnoletti with lobster, celery hearts, brown butter and tarragon is $29. I’m absolutely sure they aren’t going to enjoy their lunch as much as I enjoyed my corn on the cob in Iowa. It didn’t even need butter.