My daughter, who has her doctorate in Analytical Chemistry, came home last weekend to attend the Minnesota State Fair and to meet our puppy Oliver. Aurora and her husband live several states away and we only get to see them a couple of times a year…Christmas, Easter and the Minnesota State Fair. Visits are always anxiously awaited and go by way too fast. We had a great time with them at the fair, but Oliver wasn’t too sure about Dr. Aurora after she bit him in the head. Some people’s kids.
Now, for those of you who have never been to the Minnesota State Fair, you are really missing out. Minnesota’s first state fair was held in 1859 a year after statehood. Boy have times changed since then and the fair has changed right along with them. It is interesting to note that Minnesota’s entire state population total for 1860 was just over 172,000. This year the Minnesota State Fair attracted 1,943,719 people and set a new attendance record. Daily fair attendance on four days topped the 1860 Minnesota state population totals.
If you aren’t a Minnesotan by birth the state fair is the place to go to learn our customs and dialect. Once there you will immediately begin learning how to be Minnesota nice while standing in the long lines for food, entertainment and bathrooms.
Line standing at the fair has been elevated to an art form in social education. A high functioning Minnesotan can and will strike up a conversation with anyone, anywhere at any time. So come prepared to share where you are from, how long it took you to drive to the fair, if you have any common family ties or friends, what you do for a living and toilet paper while you are being chatted up by the person in the bathroom stall next to you. Should you hear “Uff Da” being sighed from the stall next to yours don’t be alarmed. More than likely the term is being uttered to reflect the size of the long line outside of the bathroom. None the less, courtesy flushes are a requirement for “Minnesota Nice” certification.
While standing in line is one of the biggest attractions at our State Fair, overindulging in foods that would give a cardiologist a heart attack come in a close second. The Minnesota State Fair proves that if you can get food on a stick…it can be deep fried and retailed. No matter what is put on a stick and deep fried people will eat it in droves. Vendors sell deep fried cheese curds, alligator, cheese cake, Twinkies, candy bars, hot dogs and pickles just to name a few examples. I truly believe that only in Minnesota will you find deep fried hot dish on a stick.
Overeating at the fair cannot be avoided. When asked or dared to consume a particular item a true Minnesotan always answers, “ya sure.” It is better to bloat than risk confrontation or appear cowardly.
Whether it is walking or driving on thin slippery ice in the winter or jumping on state fair midway rides that plunge hundreds of feet straight down in the summer, stoic
Minnesotans are raised to bravely defy both gravity and common sense. Many an unemotional, “my, but wasn’t that something” has been said by a shivering wet Minnesotan in sub-zero temperatures as a tow truck pulls their submerged vehicle out of a nearly frozen lake or heard at the state fair midway. However, it is considered highly un-Minnesotan to lose the contents of your stomach in either of these situations. First of all it violates the Lutheran prohibition of ever wasting food. The only acceptable exception to this rule involves accidental state fair lute fisk consumption and it would only apply if fisk hungry cats are present.
Whether you are in to people watching or just watching where you step, the great Minnesota get-together is the end of summer place to be.
Another sign that summer is over and autumn has arrived is the smell of cinnamon lofting from an oven. This recipe for “Old Fashioned Apple Crisp” is always a fall favorite.
Old Fashioned Apple Crisp
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2 cup of flour
1-1/2 cups quick oatmeal
2 cups of brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup of butter or margarine
4-5 cups of finely sliced apples (peeled and cored)
Sauce for filling:
1 cup water
1 to 1 ½ cups sugar (depending on how tart the apples)
3 Tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of cinnamon
In a medium-sized bowl mix together flour, oatmeal, brown sugar, cinnamon and melted butter.
Press two-thirds of crust mixture into 9 x 13 cake pan. Cover with sliced apple.
In a saucepan combine water, sugar, cornstarch. Cook until thick and clear. Add vanilla and nutmeg. Pour thickened sauce over apples.
Sprinkle the rest of oatmeal mixture on top and bake at 350 degrees for 45-60 minutes.
Serve warm with vanilla or cinnamon ice cream.