The Fleischkuekle rocks
Do you remember the three old ladies in their 1948 sedan, cruising around town with a bull horn mounted on the roof? “Spreading the Word” was a Kroll’s Diner TV commercial in which three German ladies made it clear that the Fleischkuekle rocks. The commercial, both hilarious and very clever at the same time, pointed out the strong German influence in foods in North Dakota.
Fleischkuekle is just one of the many ethnic foods in the state that are common. It is a Germans from Russia type of meat pie made with dough, similar to a Cornish pastry or Russian chiburekki. Fleischkuekle is typically served hot from a deep fryer.
Another German from Russia staple is knoephla. This is a type of dumpling, commonly used in soups. The word is related to the modern German dialect word Knöpfle, meaning little knob/button. Traditional knoephla soup is a thick chicken and potato soup, almost to the point of being a stew. There are many different iterations known, though the North Dakotan iteration typically contains just potatoes and dumplings. This is another item that Kroll’s Diner promoted heavily. In a forceful voice, one of the old ladies in the commercial says, “You will like our knoephla soup!”
One of the most important foods to come from Germany proper is kuchen. It’s the German word for cake but is used in other languages as the name for several different types of savory or sweet desserts, pastries, and gateau. Most kuchen have eggs, flour and sugar as common ingredients while also, but not always, including some fat.
In Germany it is a common tradition to invite friends over to one’s house or to a cafe between noon and evening to drink coffee and eat kuchen. As the old ladies in the Kroll’s Diner commercial are cruising in their ‘48, they come across a priest walking down the street who tells them as they pass, “Blessed be the kuchen!”
There are a number of places across the state where you can get kuchen. If you’re serious about it, though, you should check out Grandma’s Kuchen in Ashley. Those people are churning out 20 flavors of kuchen every day, and you can get it fresh or frozen. Aldo, let’s not forget sauerkraut, which is fermented cabbage and very popular in North Dakota.
Norwegian foods are equally as popular as many of us know from attending the Norsk Hostfest in Minot.
Lefse is perhaps the most common Norwegian food adapted on the North Dakota prairie. It is a traditional soft Norwegian flatbread made with potatoes, flour, butter, and milk or cream. It is cooked on a large, flat griddle. Special tools are used to prepare lefse, including long wooden turning sticks and special rolling pins with deep grooves.
Krumkaka is also very popular and is found all over at Christmas time. Essentially it’s a Norwegian waffle cookie that is curved cake or krumkaka.
Lutefisk is another Norwegian specialty, although most of the rest of the world wonders why? This is a white fish, usually cod, that is dried, salted and pickled in lye that becomes gelatinious.
There are a lot of other ethnic foods in North Dakota. Here are a few that are fairly well known.
• Italy: Pizza, pasta, breads, formaggi (cheeses) and minestrone.
• Mexico: Enchiladas, tamales, burritos, tacos, tostadas, tortillas, fried ice cream and chiles.
• England: Fish & chips, shepherd’s pie, Beef Wellington, bangers and mash – a dish consisting of sausages served with mashed potatoes and onion gravy, scones and pickled onions.
• France: Beef bourguignon, souffle, soupe à l’oignon (French onion soup), baguette, croissants, truffles, escargot, pastries and quiche.
• Greece: Baklava, stuffed grape leaves, gyros, fried cheese and olives in olive oil.
• Native American: Fry bread, three sisters (corn, beans, squash), hominy, potatoes, succotash, chile and pemmican.
• Australian: Vegemite on toast, lamington, Tim Tams, sausage rolls, calamari, pavlova, meat pie and pumpkin soup.
• Ukrainian: Borscht, Chicken Kiev and stuffed cabbage rolls.
• Polish: Perogies, kielbasa and potato pancakes.
• Chinese: Egg rolls, wonton soup and fried rice.
• Canadian: Poutine, ketchup potato chips and smoked salmon.
• Japanese: Miso soup, ramen and sushi.
• Korean: Kimchi.