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.
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.
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.
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.
The feast is finished with a mixture of melted butter and Creole seasoning.
Dinner is served! No crockery or cutlery is needed. Just dive in and enjoy (although you may need a napkin or two!).
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.