With its corn by the acre, beef on the hoof, Quaker Oats, and Kraft Mac n’ Cheese, the Midwest eats pretty well and feeds the nation on the side. But there’s more to the midwestern kitchen and palate than the farm food and sizable portions the region is best known for beyond its borders. It is to these heartland specialties, from the heartwarming to the downright weird, that Fried Walleye and Cherry Pie invites the reader.
The volume brings to the table an illustrious gathering of thirty midwestern writers with something to say about the gustatory pleasures and peculiarities of the region. In a meditation on comfort food, Elizabeth Berg recalls her aunt’s meatloaf. Stuart Dybek takes us on a school field trip to a slaughtering house, while Peter Sagal grapples with the ethics of paté. Parsing Cincinnati five-way chili, Robert Olmstead digresses into questions of Aztec culture. Harry Mark Petrakis reflects on owning a South Side Chicago lunchroom, while Bonnie Jo Campbell nurses a sweet tooth through a fudge recipe in the Joy of Cooking and Lorna Landvik nibbles her way through the Minnesota State Fair. These are just a sampling of what makes Fried Walleye and Cherry Pie—with its generous helpings of laughter, culinary confession, and information—an irresistible literary feast.