March 24, 2015


Statehood: December 28th, 1846 (29/50)

I'm not sure what the measure of a true American is, but I tend to believe that part of it has to do with one's allegiance to John Wayne - the ultimate cowboy. I was never a Wayne fan, though my grandfather (a true patriot) loved him; however, I have this clear memory of sitting in the Dublin Airport in the middle of the night waiting to board a flight home (with the intention of surprising my elderly Pepere) after six months of living abroad, and the only thing playing on the TV's were John Wayne movies. One. After. Another. It's one of those frozen-in-moment memories that still makes me smile.

The point? This is where my knowledge of anything Iowan ends. I know Wayne was born in Winterset, but until today didn't know what else The Hawkeye State was known for. Now I know...

"The greatest thing since sliced bread" can only be called that because of the actual bread slicing machine that was invented in Davenport, IA by Otto Frederick Rohwedder in the early 1900's.

One of the many so-called Eighth Wonders of the World is located in West Bend, IA. The Grotto of Redemption is a man-made religious monument created with rocks, shells, and precious stones that took over fifty years to complete. I recently bookmarked it on Yelp just in case I ever get out that way.

The most crooked street in the world - Snake Alley (which sounds like something out of Harry Potter) - is located in Burlington, IA. It was created in the late 1800's as a way to connect the downtown neighborhood to the looming shopping neighborhood. The idea was to create a winding street similar to vineyard paths in Europe.

I also found that Iowa does not have an official food symbol*, however... that doesn't mean we shouldn't celebrate something innately and ingeniously Iowan, amIright?

An Iowan Food: The Walking Taco

While there's no official state food symbol, there are fun regional dishes like The Walking Taco. And it's pretty much exactly what you have in mind... a taco-themed food you can walk around with that isn't in a taco shell itself; it's INSIDE a bag of Doritos or Fritos! You can pretty much make this HOWEVER you want. For my household, this is how we do it (but again, there's no wrong way with a Walking Taco!)...

How to Make a Taco Even More Portable
Makes: enough for two dinner servings (and then some)

2 avocados, pitted
1 lime, juiced
1/8th teaspoon salt
7 to 10-oz bag of chips
1 Tablespoon olive oil
10 to 12-oz faux meat (like Lightlife's Mexican Crumbles)
1 to 1 1/2 cup pepper jack cheese (or Daiya's Pepperjack Style Shreds)
1 cup packed greens, julienned
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
3/4 cup sour cream (or vegan alternative like Tofutti or FYH)
Optional: 3/4 cup salsa

In a bowl, mash together the avocados, lime juice, and salt. Mix until well-combined, even smooth and creamy if you want. Place your simple guac in refrigerator.

Next, using your hands, gently crush the chips inside the bag. Then, cut open the bag of chips and set aside.

Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a frying pan, and add faux meat of choice. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes, and remove from heat.

To build: take your bag of chips and fill it with the faux meat you just cooked. Top with cheese, greens, tomatoes, sour cream, the simple guac you made earlier, and salsa if you want. Grab two forks, two beers, and get cozy with someone as you both dive into this beast!

*Zeigler, Amy. "Official State Foods". Message to the author. 28 Oct. 2013. E-mail.
Iowa Official Register: State Symbols of Iowa