Category Archives: Minnesota

How to tell that The Onion is from Wisconsin

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A recent Onion headline: Orlando Cabrera Hates Metrodome’s Tuna Casserole Smell
… except here’s the problem. No one in Minnesota would call it “Tuna Casserole.” It’s tuna noodle hotdish. It would be like having the headline “Orlando Cabrera Hates Metrodome’s Late Night Duck Duck Goose Tournament” — Minnesotans don’t play that.

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State Fair Placentophagy

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It is time for my annual report of being gluttonous at the Minnesota State Fair. This year I hit the fair in two separate trips. Last night with my mom and dad, we saw Brandi Carlile in a free concert, which was awesome — her cover of “Hallelujah” is fantastic (better than Rufus Wainwright, not as good as Jeff Buckley… but who is?). Today with my mother and sister we saw the animal barns, which was also awesome because of my first ever observation of placentophagy. (Note that I don’t mean to imply any similarities between the awesomeness of Brandi Carlile and the awesomeness of placentophagy.)
But before I get to the sheep eating one of the richest sources of proteins available, here is the list of foods I ate:

  • Pig Lickers (chocolate covered bacon) — Delicious, but rich
  • A turkey drumstick — generally reserved for Renaissance Festivals, it fits in well with the State Fair’s “on-a-stick” theme
  • Frozen apple cider — So fresh it still tasted like apples
  • A honey stick — Just a quarter for a straw full of clover honey
  • The best chocolate malt ever — I wait all year for this dairy barn treat, located next to the butter sculptures
  • Birch Beer — Why drink a standard Coca Cola or Pepsi product when all this variation is available?
  • Sweet Martha’s Chocolate Chip Cookies — Comes in a giant bucket
  • Scotch Egg (hard boiled egg stuffed in pork sausage and slathered in horseradish… on a stick, duh) — Always a favorite
  • Deep fried cheese curds — A mouthwatering heart attack waiting to happen
  • All-I-Could-Drink Milk — A pathetically low number of three glasses this year (because we were only there once and my sister wouldn’t let us return for more)
  • Raspberry Chocolate Wine Ice Cream — I couldn’t taste the supposed wine
  • Black Cow (root beer float with chocolate syrup) — I was skeptical, but it was good
  • Bites of my mother’s corn dog and my sister’s brownie — Always share
  • Free water from WCCO radio to wash it all down!

And now for the part you’ve been waiting for… at the Miracle of Birth Center (i.e. stick a bunch of pregnant animals in a barn and hope most of them give birth during the fair), a sheep had given birth to two lambs just before we arrived. When we got there, the birth was so new that the placenta had just fallen out and some of it was still attached to the mother and the umbilical cords were still attached to the lambs. Sure enough, mom and babies were nibbling at that rarest of protein sources, the placenta.
For the human kids in attendance, it was quite the learning experience. I heard more than one parent awkwardly trying to explain to their kid just what they were seeing. “No, dear, it’s okay that she’s bleeding. That’s natural.” “Um, I’m not sure why she’s eating it. Maybe it tastes good.”
And for lasting this long into the entry, if you’re not easily grossed out by the facts of life, here’s one of my tamer photos of the scene. And here’s a little more detailed one, but not for the faint of heart (or all work places). (Both photos are >2MB.)

We’re number 1?!

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Via Sheeva, Amy, et al, CNN has come up with a list of the 100 best “small cities” to live in in American and topping the list is my hometown, Plymouth, MN. However, as much civic pride as I’d like to have, my initial reaction was “Really?!?! It’s a pretty generic white bread suburb.”
Of course, I find CNN’s description of it highly amusing. For starters, who is in that picture? I have never in my life (which includes 12+ years of living in Plymouth) seen anyone that preppy fishing with waders on in Plymouth. Also, “more than half a dozen sizable bodies of water” by my count includes Medicine Lake (a real lake), Parkers Lake (check), Gleason Lake (okay), Schmidt Lake (hmmm….), and then it starts to get sketchy. If they’re counting Turtle Lake, which I talked about long ago as being a swamp, I’m crying foul.
But I’ll give them credit for mentioning Fire & Ice. Mini-golf-on-ice is pretty fun. And it’s not like the place is all bad… I’m just pretty sure I’ve lived more in more interesting cities.

Minnesota State Fair 2007

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Today I bought a T-shirt with the following Garrison Keillor poem on the back which pretty much sums up my afternoon:

You had a bratwurst and corn on the cob
A hot fudge sundae and a shish kebob
You got a bucket of cheese curds in your hand
And yet you’re stopping at the hot dog stand
You had a taco four inches thick
And a deep-fried walleye on a stick
You better be careful with that Pronto Pup
‘Cause what goes down might come back up

Note: Food consumed today may vary slightly from those listed in the poem.
Also, once I get my camera cable (left in Michigan) I’ll post pictures of both the Fair and the 35W bridge (taken from afar).

Bridge Collapses

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For those who haven’t heard, the I-35W bridge over the Mississippi river collapsed this afternoon. For those who have heard, my immediately family is thankfully all accounted for. (And thanks to those who have inquired.) The pictures are terrifying, especially given that my sister used to live only a few blocks from where the collapse happened and I myself have crossed that bridge many a time.
The crash happened right in the middle of rush hour, during bumper to bumper traffic. I don’t think they know how long it will be before they pull all the cars out of the river and find out just how many people were involved.

State Fair

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“Our state fair is a great state fair…”
Okay, the bulleted list of today’s highlights of my annual visit to the Minnesota State Fair:

  • Seeing a calf be born — Walking in to the fair, we saw a new building — the Miracle of Birth Center. Upon approaching the building, we noticed it was packed with people. As it turns out, we arrived just in time to see a cow give birth, with placenta and everything. However, they are not yet at the point of serving placenta as a fair food. (I would try it though — seriously.)
  • Princess Kay in butter — One of the Princess Kay of the Milky Way candidates was having her head sculpted into butter, as is tradition, in a chilled room in the Empire Commons. She mentioned that both of her older sisters had been dairy princesses, and thus this will be the third butter head in her parents freezer. These are 90 pound blocks of butter. I suspect they must have a separate freezer just for the butter heads.
  • The food — Many glasses of milk, a scotch egg (hard boiled egg surrounded by sausage), deep fried macaroni and cheese on a stick, a chocolate ice cream cone, a lingonberry ice cream float, fried cheese curds, ginger beer, chocolate covered cheesecake on a stick, and probably more that I’m forgetting. I think I will eat salads for the rest of the week.
  • Flying over the fair — Rode on both of the gondola rides — the original Sky Ride that takes you from Heritage Square to the Agriculture Building and the much newer Sky Glider, which takes you from the north end of the fair (near the Twins booth) to the Grandstand.
  • The Barbary Coast Dixieland Show Band — These guys were great. Clarinets, trombones, trumpets, a banjo, an upright bass, and drumset — and most of them rotated around a few of these. The highlight for me was the Washington and Lee Swing, a swing version of my high school rouser.
  • The animals — Not just the newborn calf, but pigs, sheep, cows, chickens, ducks, geese, and even a few horses (though the main horse barn was closed today).

I love the fair.

Games children play

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Well, the Kirby entries are still attracting comments from people I don’t know, but I’m done mourning, so it’s time for a new post…
A few years back, before I had a blog, there was discussion of the game “Duck, duck…” As a Minnesotan, I immediately follow that up with “gray duck” (or even “grey duck”). I said it on Anand’s post, and I’ll say it here… Duck, Duck, Gray Duck is much more fun than whatever silly game you play with geese because it allows for more creativity. (“Red duck, blue duck, pink polka-dotted duck, plaid duck, gr… een duck (ha ha, fooled you), rubber duck, roast duck, gray duck!”)
In some random web surfing the other day, I came across www.gray-duck.com and this article,* which brings up another children’s game for which Minnesota apparently has its own variation. Growing up, did you play “Captain, may I?” or “Mother, may I?” or do you have no idea what game I’m talking about? To perhaps refresh your memory, the game worked something like this:
Everyone stands at one end of the yard (or whereever your starting line is) and procedes in turn to ask the Captain/Mother, questions like…
“Captain (Mother), may I take two scissors steps?”
“Captain (Mother), may I take four bunny hops?”
etc.
The captain/mother uses his/her discretion as to whether or not you can. And if you don’t say “Captain, may I…” you have to go back to the beginning. Under these rules, the winner is the one who gets to the other side of the yard (or to the tree or whatever the finish line is) first.


* – Amusing side note: I once saw this article tacked to an office door in the old LCS at MIT, back when building 32 (the Stata Center) was just a big construction project. Given that the owner of the site has a csail e-mail address, the article I saw on the door was probably the exact same one scanned to make the jpg I linked to.