Martha+Tom

Sorry New York Times, grape salad is bullshit

photo of bowl of green grapes covered in sour cream with caramelized brown sugar and pecans

Grapes, sour cream and brown sugar — how can you go wrong?

Few things raise Minnesotans’ collective glee quite like when our frosty state earns mention in the New York Times — particularly when America’s paper of record gets Minnesota very, very wrong. Remember “Mort’s”?

And so we greeted with a good deal of mock outrage and secret merriment the Times’ strange assertion, in an article about the Thanksgiving dishes that best evoked each of the 50 states (plus D.C. and Puerto Rico!), that Minnesota was best represented by a concoction of green grapes, sour cream and sugar. (Never mind that they based this claim solely on the testimony of a woman identified by the distinctly un-Minnesotan title of “heiress.”)

Condemnation was swift as it was harsh. Minnesotans had never even heard of grape salad, let alone made it part of they holiday traditions. What were they thinking? How could they give our beloved wild rice to, ugh, Wisconsin?? Those smug New Yorkers really don’t have a clue.

But I, being an adoptive rather than native Minnesotan, like to think I keep a more open mind about these things. At least some MinnPost commenters claimed a history for the dish in the state, and, history aside, maybe it was just a good recipe. I had to try it. And wouldn’t it have been delicious if this year’s ironic grape salads became next year’s — and many years’ to come — beloved tradition?

Well, safe to say there’s no danger of that happening. I made grape salad this year, and let me tell you: it is not good. You know how some really simple recipes end up greater than the sum of their parts? Grape salad is less. The consensus at the table was we’d have been better off with a bowl of plain grapes and a separate bowl of sour cream.

It’s not helped by its appearance, either: the heat of the broiler melts the sour cream coating the grapes just enough to give the impression of — moldy grapes. Yum.

So no, New York Times, grape salad is not Minnesotan. But what’s worse, it’s not even very good.

photo of a thanksgiving plate

Grape salad is far and away the worst thing on this plate.

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