The Poetry Project

Midwestern Food

Donna Arkee

I don’t know how or why, but for some reason, ever since I was very young, I have been fascinated and obsessed with midwestern food. I’ve barely had any, and I can’t have most of it now because of my many diseases, but I have spent a good chunk of my free time reading blogs and cookbooks cover to cover, watching videos , looking at pictures and interviewing midwesterners that i find. Midwestern food is my happy place where i go to when the world is too stressful and I need to unwind. It’s like the brain spa. It is also my happy place when my girlfriend has asked me please for the love of god stop listening to five thousand three hundred twenty two true crime podcasts in a row you don’t even like podcasts you used to make fun of me for listening to just podcasts in general and you called me a “la di dah npr person” anyways i am VERY TIRED of hearing where someone put someones foot PLEASE DO SOMETHING ELSE WITH YOUR TIME YOU LITTLE PERVERTED MURDERER.

I’m not saying I’m a food sexpert, but i think midwestern food is very provocative. They’re making all these weird crazy flavors and textures happen with like cool whip and a handful of cheerios and now it’s a casserole or a salad. They’re doing wild things with processed foods and you know what? I think we should look to this as a resource, because like, when we all get sent off on a spaceship because of nuclear war or whatever blowing up the earth, we should make sure we got some midwesterners running the kitchen because they basically know how to turn all those cans of soup and boxes of instant mashed potatoes into something you can believe in.

I don’t know why I love midwestern food so much. I think it’s because my parents sent me to christian schools run by midwesterners who somehow landed in the bay area for a good chunk of my life even though we were muslim. I asked them about why they sent us there and they pretty much were like well, we were hoping they would help americanize and assimilate you. But we also knew you were too smart to fall for that jesus shit so we weren’t worried. I guess that’s nice to know. Anyways, yeah, there was a lot of midwestern food there, and I got to occasionally have some during special events. Maybe it’s some freduan thing like oh all these nice lady authority figures gave me Midwestern food a few times so I love it. Midwestern food is my mother. I know Freud shit is so bad and outdated but unfortunately it has applied perfectly to me before. Even my therapist is like...eek...yeah. Like once I realized that if you are a lesbian you get to have mommy all the time and I was like oh damn sign me up.

It’s a genuine love and appreciation though. I want to go on pilgrimage to the midwest. On foot. From minnesota to iowa and everywhere else. I want to see and look at all the lil cute midwesterners hurrying around making casseroles for a wake like they’re real people. I wanna play. I want to have my amelie moment where I put my hands in buckets of cheese curds and think about life. Some of my friends are very unsupportive and think I’m trying to do some radical political reversing the colonial gaze thingy or whatever thing. No. I just love it. I got my fantasies and dreams and desires like everyone else. Let me have my fun and don’t make it about school, DAMN.

I don’t care, ship me out to Minneapolis, I’ll be a hairy home companion. My girlfriend said that this joke doesn’t make sense unless you know I’m hairy. Well know you do. That’s called vulnerability in comedy baybeeeee.

Work from Funny Swirl with Morgan Bassichis