Thursday, August 23, 2007

Four States of. . .FOOD

Hungry? You might be by the time you get to the end of this post.

When Char and I started our trip to the Midwest I had no idea how I was going to write about it. Somewhere in central Nebraska, I started giving it some thought and then I saw a Runza restaurant.

Suddenly I had an idea to develop some themes. The theme method is simple – it has to be something that all four states have in common. What is more universal than food? So, let’s begin.

This sandwich started my quest for four states of food. It’s a Runza. A Runza is an oven stuffed pastry filled with ground beef, onion, and cabbage. The first Runza restaurant opened in Lincoln, Nebraska, in 1949. Today they have over seventy locations in Nebraska, Colorado, Kansas and Iowa. I have to admit I have never seen one in Colorado.

Have you ever thought about how comfortable you are with your friends? Well, Char and I are really comfortable with the Morrow’s. This conversation summarizes just how comfortable:

Campbell’s: Say we are going to be passing through and were wondering if we could spend a couple of nights at your place?
Morrow’s: Well, you know you can. Will you be here for dinner?
Campbell’s: Yeah, we’ll be there for dinner. Say, do you take requests?
Morrow’s: Sure, what would you like?
Campbell’s: Barbequed chicken.
Morrow’s: Well, that’s easy enough.

First, we invited ourselves to their house, and then we are bold enough to tell them what we want for dinner. Why? Well, if you ever had Cliff’s barbecued chicken you would know why. It is absolutely the best chicken I have had anywhere.

I have watched Cliff make it, he has told me how he does it yet, I doubt if mine will ever taste this good. That night we feasted on grill sweet potatoes, homemade onion rings, squash, zucchini bread and . . .yes, barbecued chicken.

I pushed away from the table knowing I had over eaten but wishing I had room for more piece of that chicken.

When we got SOR’s (Son of Ralph) and SORSO’s (Son of Ralph Significant Other) house another feast was awaiting us. Grilled steak with sautéed mushrooms, barbecued cheeseburgers, potato salad and macaroni salad. Of course, I had to try a little (okay, a lot) of everything. It was absolutely delicious.

The next night we feasted on stuffed shells and garlic bread. Another great meal prepared by SORSO.

In Iowa, we were not fortunate enough to get a home cooked meal but ate okay. I called a friend of mine who grew up in Iowa and asked him what a local food was. He responded immediately – Maid-Rite loose meat sandwiches. So, we tracked down a Maid-Rite. The first Maid-Rite sandwich was served in Muscatine, Iowa, in 1926.

A Maid-Rite is ground hamburger (not a patty) cooked with seasoning and put in a bun. Traditionalists eat it with mustard and pickles. They would never go as low as to ruin it with ketchup.

We had ours with mustard, pickles, and a little ketchup. It and a side of mashed potatoes and gravy hit the spot.

The Ox Yoke Restaurant has been an Amana tradition since 1940 when they began serving local residents. Back then, dinners cost 65 cents. Vegetables and produce are purchased locally. Meats come from the Amana Colonies smokehouse.

I like bratwurst and always have. I don’t eat them much any more because of the high fat content. The bratwurst we had at Amana was one of the leanest and tastiest ones I have had in awhile. It’s served with sauerkraut, a side of coleslaw and a mountain of French fries.

Okay, you have just eaten your way across three states – you cannot be hungry. But, if you are drop in - we’ll open a bottle of wine and bust out the cheese and crackers.

Okay here is a question for you. Nebraska is famous for Runza’s, Iowa is known for Maid-Rite loose meat sandwiches, what restaurant or food is your state known for?


Blogger Cliff said...

Hey you did pretty well for yourselves. It was a pleasure. I see we should have served something green though.
Come back any time.

8:19 PM  
Blogger Cheyenne said...

Philly steaks of course!

10:44 PM  
Blogger 1 plus twins said...

thanks alot it is 10 pm and i have to raid the kitchen you made me so damn hungry!!

10:55 PM  
Blogger Seeker said...

OK.... I'm headed straight for the kitchen.....
(Chicago-style pizza!)

10:06 AM  
Anonymous terah said...

I read your description of Runza and thought "that sounds exactly like a bierock". According to wikipedia, it is!

They're very popular around here. You can even get them in the grocery store's deli.

I think the most interesting food in South Central Kansas is verenike. It's a a cottage cheese filled dumpling usually served with ham gravy, but some people eat it with syrup.

2:16 PM  
Blogger Rachel said...

KY Fried Chicken?? I guess that ones everywhere now though!

KY Hot Browns!!

I think the Food Network might have a job for you! You have made me very hungry and gave me insight to some foods I have never had before.

That BBQ chicken of Cliff's looks mighty good. My husband use to cook some really great grilled BBQ chicken too. Yummy!

6:19 PM  
Anonymous gel said...

oh my, I had a heart attack and a stroke just looking at the food!
Great post, Ralph.
( I love steak and onion sandwiches)

10:54 PM  
Anonymous Sorso said...

Umm Umm GOOD !

8:43 AM  
Blogger nora said...

Okay, I'll say it:
Cliff can we have barbecued chicken at Blogstock?

8:55 AM  
Blogger Paul said...

BBQ in this part of Kansas. Right over there in Missouri, too, in that Big City.

I have a friend who won the Kansas State Championship a coupla years back.

4:13 PM  
Blogger Gette said...

Anything and everything on a stick at the MN state fair.

4:45 PM  
Blogger Mountain Mama said...

I'm sure glad I just ate breakfast, or I'd have been licking my monitor screen. You feasted!!

1:09 PM  

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