NEWS for North Dakotans
Agriculture Communication, North Dakota State University
7 Morrill Hall, Fargo, ND 58105-5665
June 29, 2000
"You can find the finest kuchen you ever put a fork into," writes Jim McIntyre of Bismarck, "at the Tuttle Community Store Bakery."
That's a strong recommendation, but Jim, there may be rivals for the kuchen award. Since I sent out my appeal for nominations of the best kuchen, fleischkuechle, and knoephla soup in the land, I've heard from a lot of people.
One of whom was long-time language teacher Joe Kisch, who wishes I would spell knoephla as "knoepfle"--thus recognizing the German noun root "Knopf," or button, and spelling it in the common diminutive form. OK, maybe next time, but for now I better follow through with the way more cafes seem to be spelling it and start the reform campaign after this.
Right now, you see, I have gotten myself into a fine kettle of knoephla/knoepfle, as now I have all these leads to check out. An expatriate Dakotan (Mike a.k.a. "Fat Boy" Weiss) says to check out the cafe in LangdonBI think that would be Gracie's--for knoephla soup, but Sharon Wamsley says no, the best is at the Pasthymes in Steele, served Mondays and Thursdays. And Ed Keller from Dickinson, who sides with Joe Kisch on the spelling controversy, nominates the Rolling Hills Café on I-94 west of Mandan for best of breed in the knoepfle category.
Getting back to the kuchen, Mrs. Eugene Scalf of New Rockford promises you'll find "the most exquisite, delicate Kuchen you'll ever eat at the little store in McClusky." She also says visit the Highway Cafe there for "knoepfla soup" (How about that, Joe?) and "strudela" (which I'll get back to). It is kuchen, though, that seems to inspire superlatives from ordinarily modest people, as Pat Unkenholz of Bismarck says the kuchen at the Super Valu in Gackle are "TOPS!!"
As for the fleischkuechle, as I suspected, fresh-made ones are proving rather uncommon in the cafes of the northern plains. Peggy Huettl from Garrison says that the Dairy Queen (now the Four Seasons) of that town made them when her parents ran it, and the current owners may still--have to check that out. Mildred Mackenzie assures me that there are fresh-made fleischkuechle at the Dairy Queen in Beulah, so I'm going there to eat three of them. Marianne Achtenberg of New Leipzig says I need to get to her town's Octoberfest, though, if I really want to eat fleischkuechle.
Now some of you are wondering what strudela or strudla or strudels or (for Joe's sake) strudele are (although many of you know well what they are). Strudele are not strudel, but rather another sort of dumplings or noodles served sometimes with kraut, sometimes with gravy.
Julie Bruns says you really need to get to the café in Kulm (say that "Kullum") for the Wednesday strudele special, or sometimes it's some other doughy specialty like kaese knoepfle.
A number of readers also have written to commend the artistry and expertise of particular women in the region who are exemplary cooks, and I won't mention the individuals here, but be assured that whatever the hardship, I will be documenting and validating these recommendations.
I do wish I had known Cam Bachmeier's grandmother. (Cam writes from Grand Forks.) Cam says she made those cheese buttons with cream chicken, and fried knefla (there we go again) served with a milky tomato sauce. Not to mention chicken feet, and eating chocolate on bread.
Now go somewhere and eat.
Source: Tom Isern (701) 231-8339
Editor: Dean Hulse (701) 231-6136