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From Lefse to Kuchen; North Dakota Food Traditions

From Lefse to Kuchen; North Dakota Food Traditions

Mar 31st 2017

Since moving to North Dakota, my eyes have been opened to a whole new world of German and Scandinavian inspired Midwestern dishes. Gone are my days of Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and regular visits to the local farmers market. You might’ve heard, but it’s a little cold up here….meaning that our produce selection mid-winter can look pretty bleak. But, where there is a shortage of fresh fruit and veggies, there is definitely no shortage of a thing called hotdish, a fish pickled in lye (is that safe?) and a few other things that seem a bit wacky to this former west-coaster. So out of staters, this if for you….let’s dig into what food makes North Dakota, well, North Dakota.

Hotdish: A classic midwestern dish, this North Dakotan version of a casserole is loaded up with the good stuff. Whether it’s tater tots and bacon, ground beef and macaroni or a magical combination of other comfort foods, this is the perfect meal for those chilly winter nights or those backyard summer BBQ’s.

Bison: Blame it on the North Dakota State University Bison, but just about every burger joint in town has bison on their menu. For something a bit different, try bison brats on your next camping trip or at your neighborhood cookout.

Lutefisk: Upon moving to North Dakota, I was immediately told that if anyone ever offered me lutefisk, they probably didn’t like me. Needless to say, this is one thing that I’ve (luckily) not been offered yet. But this aged stockfish is well loved by many North Dakotans. With a gelatin-like texture, we’re thinking we might just stick with Jell-O…

Kuchen: Basically the German word for cake, afternoon kuchen and coffee is a popular German tradition that lives on in North Dakota. With both sweet and savory options and several different varieties, there’s a kuchen for everyone. Now we like that sound of that…

Fleischkuekle: Similar to what I’d call a pot-pie, fleischkuekle is a doughy, meat pie that is seen mostly in the Dakotas. Add ketchup and cheese and this is one meal that’ll be sure to keep you full all winter long.

Knoephla Soup: This thick and creamy soup is often made out of chicken and potatoes with a generous serving of dumplings (or knoephla as they’re typically called!) This German dish can be found throughout the Dakotas as well as Minnesota.

Lefse: When I told my coworkers I’d never tried lefse (nor did I know what it even was) they were shocked. This traditional Norwegian flatbread is made from potatoes, flour, butter, and milk or cream. Best served fresh with butter, sugar, and jam. I think this is something I can get on board with.

Krumkake: Not to be confused with crumb cake, these sweet, waffle-like cookies are made of flour, sugar, butter, eggs and cream and then cooked on a special griddle before being rolled into small cones and then filled with a number of delicious fillings.

Well, are you hungry yet? I know I am…. Now tell us, what’s your favorite midwestern food? Let us know in the comments below! And, for your viewing's a bunch of Texans trying to pronounce North Dakota food names....