What's for lunch? on the Iron range, one answer with the weight of history is a pasty-- ground meat and vegetables folded into a pastry crust. Make your way along Eat Street in Minneapolis and encounter the Somali sambusa, the Mexican torta, or the Vietnamese banh mi. Stop by a Scandinavian hot spot to find the traditional open-faced sandwich, assembled with fresh fish and vegetables and herbs. The variety of sandwich options in a state that's home to dozens of ethnic groups is truly something to behold.
But beyond being our daily bread, sandwiches carry stories, whether of cultural traditions, immigrant adaptations, or upscale improvisation. a team from the Twin Cities-based online food magazine the Heavy Table--James Norton, Jill Lewis, Susan pagani, and Lori Writer--fanned out across the state to sample the usual suspects, from the walleye sandwich to the jucy lucy and beyond, chatting with chefs, church ladies, fisherfolk, turkey farmers, and bartenders along the way. The result, Minnesota Lunch, serves up an unconventional regional history loaded with culinary anecdotes, treasured recollections, tasty recipes, and tempting photographs. Sliced bread, french rolls, fried pastry--regardless of the wrapper, these many sandwiches offer flavorful responses and a Minnesota slant to that age-old noontime dilemma.
James Norton is editor of the Heavy Table online food magazine and a coauthor of The Master Cheesemakers of Wisconsin. a weekly columnist for CHOW.com, he also has written about food for Saveur.com, Minnesota Monthly, and City Pages.