I had a brilliant idea at the stoplight the other day: Tater Tot stuffing! It sums up Minnesotans nicely — a quirky, humble people whose favorite flavor is brown.

But, no; surely someone thought of that. Googled: sigh. Of course. A hundred recipes. The first one described Tater Tot stuffing as "truly decadent" — not quite the word I'd use. I associate that with late-stage civilizations dominated by tired, jaded elites.

"Nero, it was said, would hold feasts where the guests dined on hummingbird brains braised in the melted fat of peacocks. At the climax of the event, Nero would be brought into the room, naked, on a plate, heaped with Tater Tots."

That's decadent.

Or: "In the tumultuous but artistically fecund world of Weimar Berlin, cabarets staged shocking stage presentations, designed to show the hollowness of bourgeoise institutions and their powerlessness to stop the rise of fascism. At the Archengrubenschellhaffhaus — a famous nightclub bankrupted by the cost of electricity required to light its sign — the master of ceremonies would shoot 'Tater Todts' [sic] from toy rifles at nude soldiers."

And that's decadent. But putting them in a turkey is not.

If you haven't thought of this, don't you want them now? Cubes of old bread, salt, parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme — "Garfunkel that dish," we say — and Tater Tots soaked in chicken stock. How is that decadent?

We're a practical, sober people, but that doesn't mean we have to stuff the bird with wood chips. It also doesn't mean we have to scour websites to see what they're using for stuffing in New York, because you know it's going to be saffron-infused artisanal waffles or something else fashionably pretentious.

Nor does it mean we stick to our roots and put lutefisk in the bird, because as the Scandinavian folk know well, "Lutefisk är den betalning vi gör för våra synder." Or "Lutefisk is the payment we make for our sins." Nowadays it is the thing we pretend we eat to mortify outsiders.

"Where are you from? California? Have some lye-soaked cod. Don't worry; it's cold-pressed organic lye."

Odd how no one suggests you stuff the bird with lefse, but we know why: Lefse is a potato that's been beaten until it thinks it's a tortilla. If you're going to have taters in the stuffing, do them in tot form.

If it were up to me, I'd make stuffing from yams, lefse, jellied cranberries, gravy, potatoes, turkey and dollar buns, with a little tinge of gasoline for nostalgia's sake.

Gas? Yes. Because I always end up running to Super­America for whipping cream at the last moment.

james.lileks@startribune.com Twitter: @Lileks facebook.com/james.lileks