Food Feature #2: Midwest Comfort Food

As tech week begins, and everyone gathers his or her favorite snacks for the tech table, we’re reminded once again about how the idea of comfort food functions in the play. Other posts have discussed the importance of Filipino food as a connector for Edith and Kenny to their heritage and their late mother, but American comfort food plays an important role as well. Midwestern food, specifically, shows up to indicate the journey of the characters and how they’ve grown up and learned to accept parts of their identities that make them feel alien.

For example, Edith tells Kenny how Mrs. Osheyack taught her to make tuna salad sandwiches. Later, when Kenny needs to prove to Edith that he has learned to stop telling lies and using Mother’s stories to get his way, he brings her a tuna salad sandwich, using Edith’s recipe. Likewise, when Benji invites Kenny on a date to burger chain A&W, he significantly tells Kenny that he is partially inviting him out so Kenny can meet Benji’s dad. On their earlier date to Edith’s recital, Benji had shrunk away from Kenny’s attempt at a goodnight kiss in fear of his mother catching them.

Thinking of Midwestern food, hearty, “meat and potatoes” comfort dishes usually come to mind. Midwestern food tends to reflect the regional crops of the farm communities it feeds, so corn, potatoes, soybeans, and wild rice often play a pivotal role. Locally-grown fruit and vegetables often grace Midwestern tables; for example, Rey Pamatmat’s home state of Michigan is known for its blueberries, apples, and cherries. Dairy products and beef are especially prominent in Midwestern cattle-raising states like Indiana and Ohio. Often, Midwestern specialty dishes vary according to the immigrant populations who originally settled the land.

Here are some of our favorite Midwestern comfort food dishes mentioned in EDITH. Click on the pictures for recipes:

Tuna Salad

Tuna Salad Sandwich

Baked Ziti

Baked Ziti

French Bread Pizza

French Bread Pizza

Though Benji loves the curly fries at A&W, the chain is more well-known for its root beer floats. (Unfortunately for Benji, curly fries are no longer available on the menu, though cheese fries and cheese curds are.)

Classic A&W in the Midwest.

And Bostonians hoping to recreate Benji and Kenny’s A&W date will have to travel out of state – the closest A&W is in Rhode Island!

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