There is nothing better than stumbling upon a really great book.
Often times the initial appeal can be unexplained. Is it the well executed cover design that draws your eye into a promising read? Is it a title, a familiar author, an innate sense that you will fall in love with the content?
I like to think that I am “old school” when it comes to selecting a book. I firmly believe I will only find literary treasures at ancient bookstores or poorly funded libraries. I tell myself I could never connect to the written word by browsing through Amazon and downloading it to an eReader.
That’s why I was surprised when I spotted something interesting on the internet. My fabulous Facebook friend, Connie, a woman here in Nebraska known for her Two Day Borscht and her well fed chickens, posted a photo on her timeline of a book that looked epic. It was called Fried Walleye and Cherry Pie and it was a collection of food stories by Midwestern writers. How Nebraska Rural Living is that?!
We purchased a copy online (big step for me) and added it to the Nebraska Rural Living literary collection…
I sat down with this book the other day and immediately fell in love. The first story looked very promising…
Meatloaf is as much a part of the Midwestern experience as agriculture, college football, and State Fairs. Every rural inhabitant knows how to execute a good meatloaf, as well as a tater tot casserole and pot of chili. If you are a true Nebraskan you will have attempted a homemade Runza.
FYI: The homespun version of the Runza is never as good but at least you tried.
I read Elizabeth Berg’s short story entitled “In The Midwest, It’s Meatloaf” and the story she told of her Aunt LaLa’s meatloaf was as familiar as any tale I could recall about this culinary small town staple…
Berg writes, “I’m a little shy about admitting my love of meatloaf to anyone I don’t know that well.”
I continued on in my reading and got about a few sentences into the next story entitled “Field Trips” when my concentration began to falter. It’s not that the story was uninteresting. Rather, I found I couldn’t stop thinking about meatloaf. The story I just read had me craving a delicious mound of comfort food that rarely makes an appearance in my diet anymore.
It was like I was paralyzed by the written word and the glorious concoction of ground beef, breadcrumbs and egg.
I have a confession to make. It was at this point that I put down my book and actually made a meatloaf.
I know, I’m not proud of it. I am chalking it up to some very brilliant and persuasive writing.
The meatloaf I make is an evolving process. I have nothing against the traditional ingredients but I find making meatloaf is an opportunity to experiment and “clean house” in regards to your precious refrigerator real estate.
This particular “loaf” was created with freshly ground beef and pork, a fine dice of carrots/celery/green pepper/garlic/onion/parsley, Panko crumbs , a farm fresh egg and covered with locally smoked bacon strips…
I make NO apologies for this photo shoot. I’m not a food stylist, however I believe that if you are going to take a photo of a stellar meatloaf, it should be on a steakhouse platter with a few sprigs of parsley. And not the “Italian-Flat-Leaf” kind, but rather the “Curly-Entree-Flair” variety…
As I proceed to the other short stories, I’m afraid that I will end up eating my way through this book. What if every tale inspires me to prepare another Midwestern delicacy?
Perhaps my final review of this book will also reveal a new prescription for Lipitor.
I’ll keep you posted.