The Most Hipster State

To round up my posts on the Midwest/MN, something bizarre happened last year. Minnesota got voted the most hipster state in the US. Given that the stereotypical Minnesotan dresses in sweatshirts and jeans two sizes too big for them, this made no sense.

There is a flu-like phenomenon, in which US fashion gets “caught” from Europe or Asia, develops on the coasts, and drifts in towards the Midwest. I’ve noticed this for years, when I went to Europe and came back, I was months ahead on some trends.

Example: royal blue was the bridesmaid dress colour for the Minnesotan wedding I was in this summer. There were royal blue dresses in all the shops there. I hunted up and down Regent Street and Oxford Street to no avail, only to have a Selfridges shop assistant confirm royal blue was last year’s colour.

So you can imagine my surprise to hear Minnesota was a nexus of hipsterdom, which implies being semi-fashionable. I came across the words “lumberjack-chic” in one article on the phenomenon.

The hipster state phenomenon was however confirmed by St. Paul friends, who never go to Uptown anymore. Full of independent coffee shops in big old houses with living room furniture, posh eclectic fusion restaurants, indie cinemas, and brunch spots, it is overrun with hipsters now and rammed at the weekends. Parking is an out and out war.

Given I used to hang out in Uptown as a teenager when I could only afford a cup of coffee to go out, that could imply hipster roots of which to be embarrassed. That or living in Camden and starting up a food blog.

Oh yes, food blog. Apologies for the detour, kind reader. Let’s talk about corn.

Baby corn FTW

Sweet corn is something to look forward to every late summer in Minnesota. People sell it on the roadside and at farmers’ markets, much like white asparagus in spring in Germany. Minnesota is the US’s largest producer of sweet corn.

There is nothing quite like corn on the cob, slathered in butter, on a hot summer day at a barbecue. This would be accompanied by some form of meat, or veggie burgers/veggie shish kebabs (I was vegetarian for half my life, will blog on that some other day), potato salad or coleslaw, and dessert.

In Europe, corn is more likely to be considered animal feed. Sometimes, people put it on pizza. Baby corn is used in stir fries. Corn fritters have got popular in the UK as a brunch treat, sandwiched between avocado and chutney-like substances and sometimes bacon, introduced by the Aussie/Kiwi brunch restauranteurs. Popcorn is ubiquitous but corn syrup is hard to find. Corn in its own right is just not that popular.

Apparently this is because European temperatures and terrain are not conducive to producing good quality corn. I bought some ears of corn at the supermarket (Sainsbury’s) this week in order to test whether the hypothesis that European corn is lower quality is true, so I will try them out and report back.

2 thoughts on “The Most Hipster State

  1. I have never liked corn here as much as the corn I had stateside (though this was from Massachusets rather than Minnesota and it was great. As was Massachusets asparagus (bot don’t tell anyone I said that)

  2. To follow up on corn — it is indeed much better in the US than in the UK. I’d give UK corn (and we’re talking the high-end corn here, none of this Sainsbury’s Basics crap) a 6/10, with Minnesota corn being a 10/10 for flavour and sweetness. It doesn’t turn as yellow when you boil it up here; the lack of flavour could be due to the variety that they farm. It makes me want to go to Borough Market and have a chat with a farmer on the subject – whether it’s the growing season this year, the variety they farm, or the climate.

    Asparagus I find is really dependent upon how fresh it is more than where you get it. In Germany you can buy it fresh off the field and it is to die for — I will definitely be posting about this in the spring, when we get to “Spargelzeit”.

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