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I have to love the great state of Nebraska. We stopped for lunch at an upscale Japanese restaurant on a recent visit to the historic Haymarket neighborhood in Lincoln. I casually looked out the window at a huge screen across the street. Up flashed advice on how to maintain social distance. I laughed when I read, "Hold apart a corn stalk."
Nebraskans are pretty down to earth. This is because the majority of the residents work in agriculture. According to the US Department of Agriculture, 92% of the state's land area is made up of farms and ranches. Nebraska is a top producer of beans, popcorn, and beef.
Nebraska is also the only place you can find a "runza". It's a yeast bread bag filled with ground beef, cabbage, onions and spices – the Cornhusker version of a German cabbage roll. Yum.
Why did we eat Japanese food when we visited? Our host was an engineer at the large Kawasaki factory in Lincoln. Despite being a native of Nebraskan, he has become a huge fan of Japanese food and culture. So that evening we had sushi for lunch and yakiniku (Japanese barbecue) in another restaurant. And so the adventure began.
Sushi or sashimi? Sushi consists of fish and other ingredients (raw or cooked) wrapped in rice and seaweed. Sashimi is thinly sliced raw fish or meat.
Is it safe? According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), it's always best to cook seafood thoroughly to minimize the risk of foodborne illness. However, if you choose raw fish anyway, the rule of thumb is that you have eaten fish that has previously been frozen. Some species of fish may contain parasites, and freezing will kill any parasites that are present. "I ordered cooked sushi.
The miso soup – made from protein-rich soybeans and tofu along with vitamin-rich seaweed – was light and delicious. And then came the yakiniku – platters of raw items that we could grill at our table: sliced sweet potatoes, broccoli, scallops, chicken and various cuts of beef, including … tongue.
"Try it!" urged our host as he dipped a thin slice of his grilled delicacy in a dish with sauce.
I did. And let's just say it was better than the picture I had in my head.
If eating is to be an experience, it has certainly been an enjoyable one in the heartland of our nation.
Here's another fun fact: Nebraska is where Arbor Day is held, which is kind of funny because there aren't a lot of trees here. And that's the point. In the late 1800s, a newspaper editor named J. Sterling Morton suggested that the state put on a public holiday to plant trees. More than 1 million trees were planted in this state on the first day of the arbor in 1872.
We ended our visit with a toast to our host. “Kanpai (cheers!)” And made sure we were a corn stalk apart when we left. I have to love Nebraska.
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Quinn on Nutrition: Down-to-earth Advice From Visiting Nebraska (2021, April 23)
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