Saturday, November 17, 2007

Food and Place, volume 1 (Northfield)

What's that game? The one where somebody says something and you're supposed to respond with the first thing that pops into your head? Joe Poznanski did a version of it a while back on his blog, in which he named each major league baseball team and the first player most people think of in relation to that team. For example:
Yankees ---> Babe Ruth
Brewers ---> Robin Yount
Nationals ---> ummm...nobody. And so forth.

Let's try it with cities and food. The US of A is becoming ever more homogeneous in its eating habits, what with the staggering proliferation of chains and fast food outlets. I believe it is now impossible to get more than 30 miles away from a Subway sandwich shop anywhere in this country.

But there are still pockets of regional or local food specialties, and it is these to which we will turn our attention. Should be good for dozens of posts, because I (with the generous help of legions of loyal and clever readers) will offer up commentary on each. It's a series. Or a serial. Or (see below) a cereal.

As a warm-up exercise, try this one:

I say Northfield, you say....Malt-O-Meal! The cereal company is a prominent industry here, occupying a large modern factory on the edge of town and the historic Ames Mill in the center of town. That's a picture of the Ames Mill at the top of this post. They still make the original hot wheat breakfast glop at the Ames Mill. People around here are quite loyal to Malt-O-Meal (often shortened to MOM) and make a game of guessing which cereal they're packaging today based on the smell that envelopes the town. Marshmallow Mateys? Tootie Frooties? Yum!

Malt-O-Meal's dry cereal is good. I don't fancy the artificially flavored kids' cereals, but the simple classics like raisin bran or corn flakes are better than their major-label counterparts.

Tomorrow, the food-and-place post will look at Cincinnati.

Let us conclude with a poem by Richard Brautigan which is about food and not about food:

Private Eye Lettuce

Three crates of Private Eye Lettuce,
the name and drawing of a detective
with magnifying glass on the sides
of the crates of lettuce,
form a great cross in man's imagination
and his desire to name
the objects of this world.
I think I'll call this place Golgotha
and have some salad for dinner.

(from "The Pill Versus the Spring Hill Mine Disaster" 1968)

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