I suppose the blog’s title—Flyover Tapas: Exploring the Culinary Geography of the Flyover States—warrants an explanation. “Flyover” and “Tapas” typically aren’t used together, though I guess that a silly autocorrect suggestion on a mobile device could conceivably have placed the two words adjacent. So, fasten your seat belts and make sure your bags are secured in the overhead bin as we take off to Definition Land.
I’ll do this backwards and start with “tapas”. The Spanish got it right. By creating the concept of tapas, I mean, that delightful “meal” of small bites that accompanies drinks, friends, and conversation. How refreshing and rejuvenating! How absolutely delightful! Defined by Merriam-Webster.com as “an hors d’oeuvre served with drinks especially in Spanish bars —usually used in plural”
The Spanish certainly aren’t the sole practitioners of this practice. North Americans regularly partake of similar get-togethers. Anyone who has ever shared a meal of myriad appetizers with friends can understand the appeal of the power of nibbling on little bites of various tasty things on flowing banter between compatriots. Witness the popularity of meeting friends for drinks after work, often accompanied by bowls of snacks, or the cocktail party, with its finger foods to balance the beverages. The spirit of tapas infuses them. Food sharing = people caring.
Now, let’s look at the first word, flyover. The term “flyover states” has been used perjoratively to belittle the vast interior of the United States. Heartlanders are assumed to eat only greasy, flavorless casseroles, probably calling them “hot dish”. Anything with seasonings other than salt, pepper, and (maybe!) curly parsley is “spicy”. Naturally, all recipes involve a can of cream of fill-in-the-blank soup. And, of course, these Flyovererians are all wearing sequined holiday sweaters and Big Ten (Eleven? Twelve?) caps. These—and many more—are the myths associated with the Midwest and Plains food culture. And I admit to insulting this region myself—BEFORE I moved here twelve years ago. However, since I’ve lived here, I’ve discovered some wonderful food producers, markets, restaurants. I’ve become more aware of food (and food system) issues. I’ve encountered people as passionate as me about eating well with a connection to place. So, why not share my discoveries of the culinary geography of this region with the world?
There you have it—Flyover Tapas. I’ll be introducing foods and producers, discussing restaurants with a regional flavor, visiting places where regional delights are sold, examining issues that impact the Heartland’s food culture, and yes, sharing some recipes. So please, stick around and learn about the wealth that is Flyover Food!