My US food highlight – the Dump

I have not yet shared my favourite food experience from my recent US trip: the dump.  I know it may not sound particularly appetising but it describes the Iowa phenomenon that was served as part of the rehearsal dinner prior to a friend’s wedding in Minnesota.

The dump starts in the garden on a warm mid-west summer’s evening with the assembly and ignition of two large turkey fryers.

Turkey fryers ready to go

Both fryers are filled with water and the freshest ingredients around: sweet peppers in a variety of colours, button mushrooms, red-skinned potatoes, raw king prawns (shrimp), chopped sausage and Creole seasoning. The pots are then carefully brought to the boil and closely monitored for the next 30 minutes.

The cooking begins!

With the food preparation complete and the cooking underway, the table has to be set for dinner.  First, the outdoor tables are covered in several layers of newspaper before being sealed with a covering layer of tin foil.  Voila! The table is set.

After around half an hour, the waiting is over.  The turkey fryer’s inner basket is lifted from the fryer to reveal a selection of brightly coloured perfectly cooked Iowa and Minnesota produce.

Trying to spoon the food into a basket

As the crowd gathers, freshly cooked Iowa corn is spread across the tin foil-clad tables and the topped with the food from the fryers.

Serving begins

The feast is finished with a mixture of melted butter and Creole seasoning.

Finishing touches

Dinner is served!  No crockery or cutlery is needed.  Just dive in and enjoy (although you may need a napkin or two!).

Dinner is served!

On arrival at the bride’s home, I was expecting a barbecue so I was astounded when the turkey fryers appeared.  I have never witnessed anything so simple yet so tasty and so much fun!  The one ingredient that stood out for me was the sweet corn.  Far sweeter than any corn that’s widely available in the UK, it’s quite obvious that Iowa, the largest producer of corn in the US, has the sense to keep the good stuff for themselves and export the rest to us naive Europeans.

Everyone I have encountered since my return from the States has been freely regaled with my stories of the dump.   I cannot thank the groom’s family enough for introducing me to this impressive phenomenon.  I’m sure at some point – on one of our very few warm, summer evenings in Scotland – I will give in to the urge to recreate the party.  I am however convinced that it will never live up to my initial dump experience.

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One thought on “My US food highlight – the Dump

  1. How wonderful! What an amazing spread and I love the way it’s all just dumped onto the table! If you do decide to do The Dump, please add me to the list!
    The reason the corn tastes better is, I guess, it is freshly picked. The sweetness from the corn is from sugars and as soon as the corn is picked the sugars start to turn to starch; therefore the longer it is before it gets cooked, the corn won’t taste as sweet or as succulent.
    :~}

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