Fried Walleye and Cherry Pie: Midwestern Writers on Food

Fried Walleye and Cherry Pie: Midwestern Writers on Food

by Peggy Wolff
     
 

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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

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Overview

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.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
08/19/2013
Food writer Wolff, who grew up in the Midwest and still resides there, has amassed a brilliant collection of Heartland food stories. The contents of the book range from essays by novelists (Elizabeth Berg, Jaquelyn Mitchard, and others) to works by newspaper columnists, cookbook authors, and chefs. Some are humorous; others are nostalgic, or are filled with fascinating historical facts and tidbits. The collection is organized into four major parts: “Midwestern Staples” (including an in-depth look at Chicago’s Italian beef sandwiches by Michael Stern and an ode to the fried pork tenderloin sandwich by Jon Yates); “Distant Cultures,” in which Minnesotan Anne Dimock and others examine the foods that arrived with various immigrants (in her case, rhubarb, a German-Scandinavian dessert essential for pie, kuchen, and kram); “Holidays, Fairs, and Events” (readers will be amply sated by Lorna Landvik’s culinary tour of the Minnesota State Fair); “A Full Belly” (including Douglas Bauer’s view of his mother’s hard work in her Iowa farm kitchen) and “The Midwestern Sweet Tooth” (Bundt cakes, fudge, and beyond, as in “When a Pie Is More Than a Pie” by cookbook writer Jeremy Jackson). The 30 essays and 14 recipes (a portion of which are reprints) bring the flavors of the Midwest vividly to life; but, more importantly, they dig deeply into the universal connections between food, family, time, and place. (Nov.)
Laura Shapiro
“Fried biscuits, Creole-style spaghetti, carrot shavings in Jell-O, and perfect peach cobbler—this is the food that haunts midwesterners throughout their lives, and it’s inspired a collection of evocative essays by some of the region's most appealing writers.”—Laura Shapiro, author of Something from the Oven: Reinventing Dinner in 1950s America
Deborah Madison

Fried Walleye and Cherry Pie—what an eyeful! I so enjoyed reading these personal accounts of midwestern foods and the stories they tell, which is food plus people, place, and history. As Peggy Wolff says at the start, food is not just food; it’s the experience that counts—where you are and who you are with. And that is just what these stories are about: the bigger picture of food that makes its memory poignant and worth telling.”—Deborah Madison, author of Vegetable Literacy
Chicago Tribune - Christopher Borrelli

"Thoughtful, addicting."—Christopher Borrelli, Chicago Tribune
Shelf Awareness

"A nostalgic trip through Middle America."—Shelf Awareness
New York Times - Jenny Rosenstrach

"Heartland natives will embrace the recipes, if not the remembrances of State Fair corn dogs and Lake Michigan fish boils, German kuchen and tamales eaten on Chicago’s Maxwell Street, a.k.a. "the Ellis Island of the Midwest.""—Jenny Rosenstrach, New York Times
Times Literary Supplement

"Fried Walleye and Cherry Pie reads like a feast and roundtrip combined taking in Iowa . . . and skirting the "tan landscape" of the "Corn Belt". The books ends in a selection of desserts, allowing Peggy Woolf to reminisce about pie, stuffed with fruits of Wisconsin . . . plucked from the tops of sunbathed trees."—Times Literary Supplement
Booklist - Mark Knoblauch

"This anthology of essays on the Midwest's best and most unpretentious foods should go a long way toward regaining the respect the heartland's cuisine ought to enjoy."—Mark Knoblauch, Booklist
Library Journal
09/15/2013
Some 30 well-known Midwestern writers reflect on food and family, and their reminiscences provide a feast for the reader in this hearty collection of essays. Jacquelyn Mitchard's "Corn in Heaven" is a joyous celebration of this sweet summer crop, evoking warm and wonderful memories of family gathered around as the corn roasts on an open fire. Writer Elizabeth Berg celebrates her Aunt Lala's meatloaf, recalling her Midwestern middle-class upbringing where "everyone had meatloaf once a week." NPR personality Peter Sagal laments Chicago's 2006 ban on the sale of foie gras, and writer Sue Hubbell offers up "The Great American Pie Expedition." VERDICT A delectable read, sprinkled with recipes and generous helpings of fun and plenty of food for thought.—Graciela Monday, San Antonio

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780803236455
Publisher:
UNP - Nebraska Paperback
Publication date:
11/01/2013
Series:
At Table Series
Pages:
280
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.90(d)

What People are saying about this

Deborah Madison

Fried Walleye and Cherry Pie—what an eyeful! I so enjoyed reading these personal accounts of midwestern foods and the stories they tell, which is food plus people, place, and history. As Peggy Wolff says at the start, food is not just food; it’s the experience that counts—where you are and who you are with. And that is just what these stories are about: the bigger picture of food that makes its memory poignant and worth telling.”—Deborah Madison, author of Vegetable Literacy
Laura Shapiro

“Fried biscuits, Creole-style spaghetti, carrot shavings in Jell-O, and perfect peach cobbler—this is the food that haunts midwesterners throughout their lives, and it’s inspired a collection of evocative essays by some of the region's most appealing writers.”—Laura Shapiro, author of Something from the Oven: Reinventing Dinner in 1950s America

Meet the Author

 Peggy Wolff has written on food and food culture for publications including the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Hartford Courant, and Orlando Sentinel. She is the food editor for REALIZE Magazine.
 

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