The beauty of American cooking is its diversity.
While people tend to think of pizza, burgers and other hand-held foods, or they consider other regional styles like “California style,” “Southern cooking” or “Kansas City barbeque,” the reality is we have a diverse palate that pulls from the cultures that have blended into this beautiful country.
Today, I want to share with you some culinary ideas and recipes from the Midwest, specifically Indiana.
Hoosier cooking is still somewhat new to me, even after a decade of living in Indiana. I’ve yet to try a pork tenderloin sandwich or a sugar cream pie, both famous in the Hoosier state. I have, however, completely indulged in my love of fresh corn on the cob, especially when it’s off the grill.
Funky Fruits from Indiana
Persimmons are sold everywhere as the farmers markets close at the end of the season, though you’ll rarely find them in stores. Typically sold as persimmon pulp, they make a great addition to your Thanksgiving dessert menu in the form of persimmon pudding.
Paw paws, I’ll admit, I’m less enamoured with, though now that I have this recipe for Paw paw and apple salad I might give it another chance. Paw paws are available for a few brief weeks at the farmers market, again at the end of the Indiana growing season.
Making Maple Syrup
While you may think of Vermont and Maine when it comes to maple syrup, Indiana holds its own. Indiana is one of the southernmost points in the United States for producing maple syrup. Indiana is home to the National Maple Syrup Festival, and my family has enjoyed seeing maple syrup tapping and production through scouts and our local parks, which produce maple syrup for an annual fundraiser.
A Unique History of Food
Because Indiana is one of the oldest states (we’re celebrating its bicentennial this year), it has more of the melting-pot feel than my home state of Kansas.
And that melting pot is clear in the kitchen, with German, English, Amish, Hispanic and Native American influences for many of the historically “Hoosier” dishes, though I love the diversity as newer generations of immigrants have flexed their culinary muscle in this state.
Consider these cultural influences for Hoosier cuisine:
- German foods: hot German potato salad, sauerkraut and oat macaroons.
- English foods: molasses, taffy, honey, and maple syrup
- Native American foods: beef (and other meat) jerky, pumpkin with maple, honey drink, Cherokee Huckleberry Bread, or sassafras tea
- Amish foods: sourdough biscuits, buttermilk chicken, shoo-fly pie
Want More Indiana Recipes?
Check out these cookbooks that celebrate influences in Hoosier cooking:
(This is a relatively new book, but one I dearly love, and it talks about local influences in his cooking.)
Please note, these do include affiliate links, which help support our scouting adventures and this blog.
Want to earn the Girl Scouts of Central Indiana retired Junior Hoosier Cooking badge?
Download the requirements for the Hoosier Cooking Badge, but you will have to contact the council directly to inquire about availability or find it through trading groups online.
This post is part of a series on learning about cultures for the Multicultural Kids blogs “Olympics for Kids” series. It’s an awesome opportunity to teach kids about the world and explore cultures together.
Even if the Olympics are past, please check the series out for great ideas for your World Thinking Day celebrations!
Welcome to our Olympics for Kids series! The Olympics are a wonderful opportunity to teach kids about the world and explore cultures together.
Today, you can find more about other recipes from various countries thanks to our participating bloggers:
5 French Recipes to Cook with Kids – Multicultural Kid Blogs
A Taste of South Africa – Globe Trottin’ Kids
Cooking Hoosier Style (Indiana, USA) – using resources wisely
Chilean Sopaipillas – La Clase de Sra. DuFault
5 Dutch Foods You Need to Try – Expat Life with a Double Buggy
My Favorite Latvian Childhood Dessert – Let the Journey Begin
Puerto Rican Shortbread Cookies with Guava – Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes
Brigadeiros – the piri-piri lexicon
Don’t forget that you can also download our Summer Games Unit activity pack to learn more about the world and have fun during the Olympics.