Minnesota's food is on display this weekend

 Juicy Lucy

Whenever there is a large sporting event in a city, fans will flock en masse to support their favorite team. In addition to cheering at the game, the fans will use Yelp and other apps to find the best food spots in town. With the country's largest game in town for the first time in twenty-five years, people in Minneapolis are eager to show how much the city has matured in the last quarter century. 

When you live in a "flyover" state, you realize that people don't think of your region as having a vibrant food culture, as most of the focus is on the Northeast and West Coast. But the Twin Cities and surrounding areas have been slowly but surely improving their foodie credentials. Once known almost solely as being the birthplace of SPAM and for its ubiquitous "hot dish", Minnesota's food scene has evolved. 

In 2016, chef Paul Berglund of Minneapolis restaurant The Bachelor Farmer won the James Beard Award for Best Chef Midwest. Popular cookbook author Amy Thielen hails from the northern part of the state. Most of the food in Minnesota is rooted in the Midwest farming traditions of ample portions, quality meats, and locally grown produce - including a lot of hothouse products since the growing season is so short. 

Even though many lauded restaurants now grace the Twin Cities dining scene, most visitors will still be encouraged to try a unique local product: the Juicy Lucy. Next to SPAM, it's the most well-known local food creation, and for good reason: it's delicious. Although there is some debate about its origins, most people agree that the inside-out cheeze burger was invented in Matt's Bar, a tiny dive bar tucked in a working-class neighborhood. While the invention is credited to Matt's (where the burger is spelled Jucy Lucy), the great debate is who makes the best version. The two biggest contenders are Matt's Bar and the 5-8 Club, which is located a few miles south of Matt's on the same street. (I think Matt's is better.)

If you didn't make it to town for tomorrow's big game, you can enjoy a Lucy in the comfort of your own home by trying one of the recipes in the EYB Library, like the Minnesota Juicy Lucy from Food52 pictured above. Be forewarned: if the burger is properly made, the cheese inside is like molten lava, so let the burger cool a bit before taking a big bite. Also, I'm sorry you won't be able to have a side of Matt's fries to go along with your Lucy.

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