It's not often that "grape salad" blows up Facebook. Well, Facebook among Minnesotans, at least.
That was the case last night as the New York Times posted its state-by-state nod to traditional dishes of the 50 states and the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Good idea when well executed -- and one that food editors around the nation have done, on occasion, for decades (they generally contact other food editors to find out what the traditional dishes are).
But this effort fell flat as readers from many states said a collective "Huh?" as they encountered unfamiliar recipes that did not reflect their states' heritage. And then came the outrage. (Minnesotans clearly take their recipes seriously.) Twitter went wild with its own hashtags: #embracethegrape and #grapegate. See some of the most amusing responses here.
The blurb that went with Minnesota's grape salad said it "falls into the same category of old-fashioned party dishes as molded Jell-O salad, comes from a Minnesota-born heiress, who tells me it was always part of the holiday buffet in her family." Clearly, this unnamed native is an outlier when it comes to the norm.
The issue was not with the recipes themselves, which were undoubtedly delicious. The problem was that they were billed as traditional recipes that reflected each state.
A tweet to the writer of the Minnesota blurb -- David Tanis -- and another NYT food writer -- Kim Severson -- brought some levity from them and what we will accept as an apology.
Later, in response to the uproar, Tanis posted a coment on the New York Times Facebook page:
"Greetings, Minnesota! We're still hoping you'll give our grape salad recipe a try. It was a staple of 1950s and 1960s spiral-bound Lutheran or Junior League-type community cookbooks, even featured in the Redwood Falls Gazette, right alongside tater-tot-topped hotdish recipes. The friend who gave it to me (a life-long Minnesotan who also made a lot of Swedish pancakes with lingonberries) would be dismayed to know it has caused such ire. Grape salad may be out of date, but is so delicious it could stand a revival. For a version of hotdish, stay tuned for Sam Sifton’s post—he’s developing a new recipe now. In the meantime, have a happy Thanksgiving, one and all."
Does this sound like a Minnesota Thanksgiving dish to you?
From the New York Times
2 pounds seedless grapes, removed from stems and rinsed, about 6 cups
2 cup sour cream
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup toasted pecans, optional
Heat broiler. Put grapes in a large mixing bowl. Add sour cream and stir, making sure all grapes are well coated.
Transfer mixture to a 2-quart ceramic souffle dish or other baking dish. Sprinkle brown sugar evenly over top. Place dish under broiler as far from heat source as possible and broil until sugar is caramelized and crispy, about 5 minutes (be vigilant or you'll risk a burnt black topping). Rotate dish as necessary for even browning. Chill for at least one hour. May be prepared up to 24 hours ahead. Just before serving, sprinkle with toasted pecans, if using.