Top 10: Foods of the Midwest

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A juicy burger. Image courtesy of Valeria Boltneva.

The best food and food combos arguably come out of the Midwest. As someone who has grown up in the Midwest, there isn’t a better portrait of American cuisine than the conglomeration of the middle United States.

Think of those things that get your mouth watering at a family gathering, a hot summer night at the county fair or on a special holiday. A region heavily influenced by agriculture and migrants, the Midwest hosts a wide variety of food that can only be made best here.

Here are the best Midwest foods and food combos, biasedly listed for your viewing – and eating – pleasures.

10. Pizza

Pizza in the Midwest takes the number 10 spot because, while the Midwest does boast popular pizza styles, like Chicago Deep Dish and Detroit style, overall it’s subpar at best.

The range of crust styles, cheeses and sweet versus spicy sauces showcases the ancestral diversity of the Midwest, but that’s really it. It’s fine, we love it, but New York style unfortunately takes the cake. However, If you’re looking for the actual best Midwestern pizza, try Roma’s in Southern Illinois. Absolute perfection and a true homage to Old Sicily.

9. Pork Tenderloin Sandwich

The good ol’ Pork Tenderloin. Enormous beyond your wildest dreams, deep fried to perfection and a true down home American favorite, the Pork Tenderloin is a popular staple of the Northern Midwest, like Minnesota and Wisconsin. Try it with a side of fries and good hearty swipe of mayonnaise.

8. Cheese Curds

Oh, cheese curds. Your sweet, salty, funnel cake batter qualities are truly a gift to our country. Best made in Wisconsin, obviously, cheese curds can be made squeaky or fried and are delicious both ways. If you want a cheese curd fix in Missouri, or anywhere but Wisconsin honestly, try Culver’s –  they’re pretty good with a side of ranch.

7. Biscuits and Gravy

Biscuits and gravy are a hearty breakfast option for those brave enough to load down their stomach early in the morning. A flaky biscuit smothered in white sausage gravy is a true art form and is a better brunch pairing than anything else. Warm and hearty, biscuits and gravy are a star, but can be dulled by sweeter breakfast options.

6. Burgers

The burger: strictly American, strictly beef – unless you have vegetarian options, or turkey. But honestly, no matter the makings, burgers in the Midwest are so good. A multiple range of toppings, thickness and bun styles make burgers an always good go to option.

5. Chili

I love chili, and chili MUST have beans. Sure, you can make chili Texas style – leaving out the beans – but here in the Midwest we have beans. Not only is chili a go-to on a cold winter’s night, but it’s also incredibly cheap to make, making it a necessary staple for college students. To make it perfect, I like to add sharp cheddar cheese and sour cream to mine.

4. Casseroles

Casseroles are a Midwestern mother’s favorite dinner. You can pretty much make a casserole out of anything, which is what puts casseroles so high up on my list. Versatile, easy to make and a real crowd pleaser, I think that casseroles are highly under-appreciated, and deserve to be seen as a more viable food option.

3. Pizza with Ranch

Pizza with ranch. We talked about Midwestern pizza, but pizza with ranch is a combination that is strictly reserved for the Midwest and has absolutely no comparison. The best type of pizza/ranch combo is Pizza Hut pepperoni pizza with Hidden Valley ranch. The flavor of the crust with the tangy dressing is hard to beat, making this combo an iconic Midwestern classic.

2. Ice Cream Cones

If you didn’t know, ice cream cones originated in the Midwest – in St. Louis during the World’s Fair – so this summer favorite is purely Midwestern. Ice cream is honestly one of the best things to happen to humanity, and I’m lactose intolerant, so I know its worth.

1. Barbecue

Of course, barbecue has to be number one on my list. While I believe that there is better barbecue than Midwestern barbecue, I feel like I would’ve been the subject of a witch hunt if I didn’t include barbecue on the list, or as number one. Since we all, in Kansas City, have a plethora of delicious barbecue, there’s nothing better that could top this list.

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