Friday, February 10, 2012

Thanks, But I Prefer Chocolate

Thought for the day: I think I know why the snowmobile was invented in Minnesota. It's because they needed a better way to get to their Independence Day celebrations. (Pssssst! It ain't CORN that's knee-high there on the fourth of July!)

Minnesota got its name from Dakota Indian words meaning sky-tinted water, or land of sky blue waters. Nice image, huh? (Anybody remember Hamm's beer?)

Well, there's also a joke saying the name actually came from the Sioux language, and means something akin to stupid palefaces who soak fish in lye.

And some of them really do soak fish in lye. What's more, they EAT it. Because of its large population from the Nordic countries, the traditional dish of  lutefisk can still be found in Minnesota. And eaten, if you dare. In his book Pontoon, Garrison Keillor had this to say about this ... er ... delicacy: 

Lutefisk is cod that has been dried in a lye solution. It looks like the desiccated cadavers of squirrels run over by trucks, but after it is soaked and reconstituted and the lye is washed out and it's cooked, it looks more fish-related, though with lutefisk, the window of success is small. It can be tasty, but the statistics aren't on your side. It is the hereditary delicacy of the Swedes and Norwegians who serve it around the holiday, in memory of their ancestors, who ate it because they were poor. Most lutefisk is not edible by normal people. It is reminiscent of the afterbirth of a dog or the world's largest chunk of phlegm.

Yum, huh? So, have any of you actually tried this Nordic delicacy? (Linda???) One last thing about this dish, which I find mildly amusing. Although it originated in the Nordic countries, very little of it is consumed there any more. It's the descendants who've moved to the U.S. and Canada who are still eating the stuff.

Okay, time for some pictures:

Holy moley! This is a MALL? I thought it was a CITY!

The Mall of America, located in Bloomington, is the size of seventy-eight football fields, and covers 9.5 million square feet!

Minneapolis is home to the oldest continuously running theater in the country, the Old Log Theater. At left is a picture of its interior.

Pelican Pete, found in Pelican Rapids, is the world's largest pelican. Built in 1957, this concrete pelican stands fifteen and a half feet tall, and consumes concrete fish four feet long. (Just kidding about the fish.)

The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden is the largest urban sculpture garden in the country. Dontcha love that spoon bridge? And that cherry ... I guess it's like the ... um ... like the cherry on top.

In 1885, a New York reporter said St. Paul was another Siberia, and unfit for human habitation in the winter. To prove him wrong, St. Paul held a Winter Carnival. Pictured is the fourteen story ice palace St. Paul residents built at that first festival. It covered an entire acre. That ice palace is long gone, but the winter festivals continue as an annual event.

Not saying the New York reporter was entirely correct about the Siberia-like weather, but Minneapolis does have an extensive skyway system, designed to protect residents from the non-Miami-like elements. The system connects 52 blocks, and makes it possible for residents to eat, work, shop, and sleep without ever risking frostbite by sticking their delicate little tootsies outside.

The Aerial Lift Bridge, the country's first aerial ferry, was put into operation in 1905 over the strip canal between Duluth and Minnesota Point. It can hold six automobiles at one time.

Where the Big Fork and Rainy Rivers meet on the Canadian border near International Falls is the largest Indian burial mound in the upper midwest. One of the mounds at Grand Mound Historic Park is nearly three stories tall, and the Laurel Indian remains contained within the mounds date as far back as 2200 years. Although this site was a tourist attraction for many years, it was permanently closed in 2007, with the (better-late-than-never) acknowledgement that Native Americans consider this a sacred place.

You know who this guy is, don't you?  That's American folklore hero Paul Bunyan. This statue can be found in Akeley, and the folks there claim it to be the largest Bunyan statue in the country. In the kneeling position, he measures twenty feet tall, but if he were to stand UP, why he'd be at least thirty-three!

With more than fifteen thousand lakes measuring more than ten acres in size, Minnesota has 90,000 miles of shoreline, which they claim is more than California, Florida, and Hawaii combined. I don't know about that, but they DO have a lot of water. And a lot of lighthouses. The one at left is the Split Rock Lighthouse, and it's located on the clifftops above Lake Superior. Built in the 1920s, it is now a national historic landmark.

Ever read any of  The Little House on the Prairie books? Walnut Grove, author Laura Ingalls Wilder's childhood home, is home to a museum bearing her name.

I included this circa 1875 train depot picture for two reasons. First, for its design, and second, because I LOVE the name of the town. This is the Minnehaha depot. (Think they only tell little jokes there?)

Okay, enough pictures. It's time to take a peek at some of the laws still loitering on the books in the Land of Sky Blue Waters.

  • It's illegal to cross state lines with a duck on your head. (Guess you'd better sport a chicken instead.)
  • It's against the law to sleep in the nude. (And how, exactly, do they police that? And what's more, how do they prevent every policeman in the state from volunteering for the duty?)
  • All men driving motorcycles must wear shirts. (I guess it's optional for women.)
  • Citizens crossing into Wisconsin may not wear a chicken on their heads. (Drat! No duck OR chicken? Better grab the pig.)
  • All bathtubs must have feet.
  • In Minneapolis, it's against the law to drive a red car down Lake Street.
  • It's considered a public nuisance in Minnetonka to drive a truck with dirty tires. (Better get out and push, dude!)
  • It's a public nuisance to place tacks on a sidewalk, too. (Hmmm, I see their point ...)
  • It's also against the law there for anyone to talk another person into entering a massage therapist business after 11PM. (How about the other person who lets himself get talked into going in there to get that (wink, wink) late-night massage?)
  • And in St. Cloud, it's illegal to eat hamburgers on Sundays. (Hot dogs okay?)

Okay, boys and girls, it's that time again. It's time for (ta-DA!) 

The Weirdest News Stories of the Week

Newt? Nope. A Chioninia lizard.
*** Evidently, a rare lizard from the Cape Verde islands wasn't content with his life in the dirt, so he hitched a ride out of town on an airplane. After surviving a 3000-mile flight inside the plane's frigid baggage hold, the little guy ended up taking another sort of spin entirely. You see, the tourist who unknowingly carried the freeloader home in her baggage also unknowingly tossed said freeloader into the washing machine with her dirty laundry. Believe it or  not, the resistant little booger survived. Any lizard with such staying power deserves a name, and now Larry the Lizard has a new home, too. He's now a resident of the Tropiquaria Wildlife Park in England. Poor Larry. If he were in the U.S., what with all his experience with baggage, dirty laundry, and spin, he could run for president.

*** Valentine's Day is right around the corner. Are you ready? Have your favorite aphrodisiac all set up for the Big Day? You know ... oysters (Shucks! I had a dozen, but only six of 'em worked!) ... chocolates (MY choice!) ... champagne (That's okay, too)  ... bull testicles ... HUH?  Uh, yeah. British chef Charlie Bigham, whose specialty for the past fifteen years has been preparing delicious hand-made meals for two, says his new Cock & Bull Pie provides just what it takes to enhance your romance. In addition to the aforementioned testicles, these pies also include high-quality steak, Mama Juana liquor, and ginseng, all wrapped up in a melt-in-your-mouth flaky crust. Before you get too cocky and poo poo this notion as being ridiculous, may I remind you that folks in India and China have been touting the libido-lifting qualities of these testosterone-packed testicles for years. So, who knows? Maybe there's something to it. If you lucky Brits reading this want to find out for yourself, you'd better hurry. They'll only be available for a short time. You can even order them online  So, hurry, you don't want to miss out on this wonderful opportunity to bond. (After dinner, the mister can oh-so-tenderly hold his lady's hair away from her face while she barfs ... )

Forbidden love? Not for long, my deer. 
*** Here's an unusual love story for you. A ram and doe at a Chinese wild animal park are getting married on Valentine's Day. This love-struck couple has been an item for quite some time, and would become despondent whenever keepers tried to separate them, so the zoo decided to throw the critters a wedding. They've already been ... uh ... honeymooning ... on a regular basis, but now their bliss will be legalized in front of a bunch of paid ticket-holders. Hmmm, if these two create an offspring, what do you reckon they'll call it?

                                           Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.


  1. The Swedes do terrible things with fish... and I should know; I'm married to one!

  2. Ach, lutefisk. Not so bad, once you get past the texture. And the flavor. There's really nothing else like it. I'll pass. Though my Dad loved it. But then he liked pickled eggs, too.
    I'm with you. Chocolate!!

  3. I understand that if their ancestors were poor, they might not have much to eat. But why would they soak their existing food in lye?

    Poor = lye-soaked food.

    I'm not seeing the connection. Can anybody explain???

  4. Aaah, wonderbar, Susan. I guess a ram and a doe would make a "roe"? Or a "doam". They make big things over there. Can you actually walk on the spoon bridge?

    I'll pass on the snot fish... and the balls, thanks. ;)

  5. Minneapolis is Pearl's stomping grounds.....I can just picture her standing knee deep in snow waiting for a bus and keeping a wary eye out for bicycle guy.
    Stick to the chocolate, the fish sounds gross. I am a little bummed out about not being able to wear my duck on my head though. At least I can go shirtless on my motorcycle...ooooh....maybe I disclosed a bit too much there.

  6. Sorry, nope. I tried blood pudding (not bad, if you don't know what it is while you're eating it, which I didn't), but I drew the line at lutefisk. And you know what? I never met a Swede who actually liked it, either. And I've met a LOT of Swedes.

  7. Fish in lye. Yuck!

    What a "mall." DOES indeed look like a city.

    Love all the photographs. I've never been to Minnesota. These pictures make me want to go there. But your posting these is the next best thing. Thanks!
    Ann Best, Author of In the Mirror & Other Memoirs

  8. Loved the photos, especially the lighthouse. I love lighthouses--they're so poetic.

    As for lye-soaked fish--eew. I had no idea that's what lutefisk was. Glad I never tried it. I'll stick with my Dutch pickled herring.

  9. Cro- They may do weird things with fish, but they sure know their way around a meatball!

    Austan- You're funny. So, the fish is okay if you can get past the texture and taste, huh? Some of the videos I watched of people trying to eat it seem to indicate the smell leaves something to be desired, too. Yup. Chocolate rules!

    Dianne- Not positive, but I think Keillor was making a joke with that line about poor ancestors. The way I understand it, lye was spilled on fish by accident the first time, thereby revealing a way to preserve fish, kinda like some of the people used salt.

    Carrie- I think you can walk on the spoon bridge. Not positive, but I'm thinking one of the pictures I looked at showed people standing on it. As for the offspring, I kinda like "deepsheer". (Sounds like the name of someone who'd write inspirational books ... ya know, like "Deepsheer Toepick.")

    Delores- Ya think Pearl's ever tried that fish? If so, I'm sure she'd have a few choice words about it. I think I'll leave my shirt ON when I climb on that motorcycle... it'd be too humiliating to see bystanders wincing and covering their eyes as I zoomed past.

    Linda- That's funny. Not really surprised about the fish, but it kinda makes me wonder how many Germans like German chocolate cake.

    Ann- You're welcome. Thanks for stopping by, dear lady. Always good to hear from you.

    Connie- I like lighthouses, too. Alas, we don't run into many in the Atlanta area. Oooh, pickled herring. Now that's good stuff! Smoked herring, too. Just about any kind of fish ... except for that lutefisk stuff. Doesn't sound at all appealing.

    Y'all take care. I hope you have a super weekend.

  10. Yay Minnesoooooooota! Born and raised but not a Swede. Never have tried lutefisk and doubt I ever will. :-) I think I may have broken some of those laws. I would love to know the background of the red car on Lake street. Fun to read about my State. Thank you and have a great weekend!

  11. Tracy- Glad you enjoyed reading about your old stomping grounds. Take care, and you have a super weekend, too.

  12. Susan, have you noticed that quite a few states have crazy laws regarding ducks? That quacks me up.

  13. where do you find this amazing information? And omg loved the Garrison Keiller description of the lutefisk. AND the train depot. I can almost imagine how it might have looked back when it was first built...

  14. Minnesota was my mom's home state. We spent some time there almost every summer. The big joke in our family was that our mom grew up in prison: Her dad ran the Minnesota State Prison Farm. They lived in a house on the prison grounds. If my mom was late getting back from a date, she missed the changing of the guard and had to stand at the gate and wait until the next change (they didn't walk around the grounds without a guard, of course). My dad was from North Dakota and was a graduate of University of Minnesota. He played basketball. I have his golden gopher.


  15. I'd be very reluctant to try lutefisk, unless I could wash it down with plenty of Hamms beer.
    Your blog is wonderfully interesting!

  16. Cool! That marriage will soon be legal in Washington. And thanks, by the way. Now I have "HAMM'S, the beer refreshing...HAMM'S, the beer refreshing...Haaammmmm's...." going through my head.

  17. I'm fascinated by those laws. Who dreamed up these rules? Baths with feet, pins on pavements, and as for yhe ducks on heads! I'm speechless!

  18. Arleen- HA! Good one! You quack me up, too.

    Marcy- Oh, anybody can find this kind of information if they spend enough time looking for it. Yeah, I spend way too much time doing the research, but I really enjoy doing it.

    Janie- Cool. I hope the post brought up some good memories for you.

    Jon- I think I'd need to be under the influence of an adult beverage before I'd even consider trying that fish. Thanks. I'm glad you enjoyed the post.

    Murr- It's been going through my head. Oh well. Better than having Alvin and the Chipmunks in there.

    Y'all take care.

  19. Rosalind- Yeah, there must be some pretty interesting background stories behind these wacky laws. Surely, at SOME point in time, they actually made sense to somebody. Then again, they WERE enacted by politicians ...

    Take care. I hope you have a super weekend.

  20. As a Minneapolitan :-) I can tell you that not only have I had lutefisk but I've enjoyed it.

    Don't judge me.

    And thanks for the shout-out the other day!


  21. Them Minnesotans had better be careful about how they measure shoreline. I would reckon Florida has near as many lakes and a shit load more ocean frontage. Tales can get pretty tall in the land of Paul Bunyan.

  22. Pearl- Hey, somebody's gotta be eating that stuff, and I'm not judging you. Heck, I eat raw oysters!

    Mr. C- I wasn't sure about that claim, either, but Minnesota is one mega-sized state.