Dinner Menus

As is well known, which means you don’t know so I’d better tell you, appreciation for certain foods varies by region of the nation.

Iowa, for instance, is unsurprisingly the place for corn. On the cob, by the kernel, on dogs and, probably, on The Giant’s feet. An example of the cuisine matching the dominant crop.

Bean dinners are popular community events in, especially, New England states. All along the rocky coast of Maine, for example, towns of every size feature an inordinate number of such meals.

Widely advertised, the bean dinners are an opportunity to sit down with neighbors, develop community spirit and act like characters recently released from the cast of Blazing Saddles. Juvenile humor, I know. The singular subject discipline at which I excel.

What explains the bean’s popularity is unclear. It cannot be the acres and acres of perfectly flat, wide open spaces, every inch of it tillable, for which New England is so well unknown.

That the beans are often sponsored by local churches and the dinner held communally (or “family-style”) in their community rec rooms suggests either an act of overt displeasure with one’s neighbors, mutual misery or a misspelling of “rec”.

Every bit as mysteriously, in Rochester, NY, pasta dinners are likewise featured at nearly identical venues. Being nested in the Finger Lakes, that were carved out first by advancing and then by retreating glaciers, Rochesterians are likewise somewhat short on perfectly flat, wide open spaces.

Of course, pasta does not grow up from and out of the ground. At least not currently.

The explanation, it seems clear, is the disproportionate number of Rochester families of Italian descent.

In addition to the just mentioned icy glaciers, the migration from Italy is doubtless explained by the upstate New York community’s welcoming, Mediterranean climate. Not.

It’s colder than all get-out in Rochester. In fact, the weather in Rochester is so uniformly and relentlessly gloomy that the city, the world’s imaging capital and home to the once mighty Eastman Kodak Company, has also been called the world’s largest darkroom.

Only those of a certain age “get” the darkroom reference. Which is too bad.

While doubtlessly delightful to speculate on culinary preferences of other regions (a field day with California, one assumes), maybe we should allow the voice of the public to chime in.

What’s on your dinner table?

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