We have all kinds of cuisines in Des Moines: Italian, Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, Lao, British, Irish, German, Michoacan, Jalisco, Japanese, Ecuadoran, French, Mediterranean, Southern, Louisiana, Tex-Mex, New Mexican, Scandinavian, vegan, vegetarian, etc. What we never really hear about is Iowan cuisine. In fact, the culinary merits of the Midwest in general are barely acknowledged to exist, certainly not like those of the South, the Pacific Northwest, New England, Appalachia or the Chesapeake.
We wondered why, and also, why not? That inspired this issue of Relish. Iowa cuisine is like an elephant in the room. Obviously it’s there, but no good comes out of failing to acknowledge and celebrate it. In the following pages, we attempt to define what Iowa cuisine is by exploring its history and celebrating its peculiarities. We check in with all parts of the state to see what Iowa produces that should be a source of pride. We find out where one can taste the best products that are Iowan in the best sense. We visit with chefs and farmers who collaborate to produce menus that are dispatched from the farm to the fork. We celebrate a distinct Iowa beverage, recipe and dessert and visit with an Iowa producer.
Of course, The Dish is back with three months’ worth of food news, gossip, honors and predictions. RELISH
— Jim Duncan, editor