A Midwest Palate

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…

meatloaf cover birdseye

I sat down with this book the other day and immediately fell in love.  The first story looked very promising…

meatloaf contents

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…

meatloaf story closeup

Berg writes, “I’m a little shy about admitting my love of meatloaf to anyone I don’t know that well.”

How true.

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…

meatloaf bacon3

meatloaf bacon2

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…

meatloaf parsley birdseye

meatloaf parsley

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.

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Scott Rager

Robert Scott Rager is a writer, designer, entrepreneur and blogger living in south central Nebraska. You can read more of his work on his blog, County Seat Living (http://countyseatliving.blogspot.com/).


  1. Robert Scott Rager February 2, 2014 at 9:39 pm -

    Thanks for reading the post, Betty! Meatloaf, like a blank canvas, has no limits. I will give you the recipe but I recommend raiding your refrigerator for a meatloaf concoction of your own. Nothing better!

  2. betty sayers January 25, 2014 at 1:08 pm -

    I want your recipe, and exactly! How can a meatloaf look so appealing? curly, common in back yard gardens parsley… now I know. A delightful read!

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