From Chinook to Chislic

I came across an article in Portland Monthly last week on bierocks, a Midwestern staple that resembles a glorified Hot Pocket. Apparently I am not the only one who has never heard of them because Microsoft Word doesn’t recognize the word, underlining it in red and suggesting I really mean “bureaux.” I do not, MS Word, but thank you for assuming I am an idiot.

In any case, the article was an eye-opener. It made me realize that not only will the climate in South Dakota be quite different than what I’m used to; the food scene will be equally foreign.

I’d already learned of chislic when researching the area. No, MS Word, I do not mean “Chasidic.” Get over yourself already. Chislic is a dish of deep-fried cubed meat served on toothpicks. It’s like a shish kebab, but without the fancy skewer or vegetables. Chislic is a regional specialty of our soon-to-be home state.

Can’t wait to dive into a heaping plate o’ this!

I’m kind of excited to try some new foods I’d never heard of before. There is a wealth of Midwestern cuisine just waiting to be discovered. Thrillist came up with this list of the most popular dishes there (bierocks and chislic are both represented) and I have to admit, I’m genuinely curious.

It’s a good thing I like meat and cheese. Just sayin’.

Regional cuisines have always fascinated me. No childhood trip to New Jersey was complete without tomato pie or Tastykakes (butterscotch Krimpets, please), and in Hawaii, kalua pork, huli-huli chicken, and hot malasadas were staples. The PNW has its own go-to foods; salmon, huckleberries, hazelnuts, and the infamous geoduck. Trust me, if I can choke down something that phallic-looking, chislic will be a cakewalk.

I’m curious what some of my Midwestern readers’ favorite local dishes are, so if Jess Witkins and Bijoux care to weigh in, I’d love to hear their thoughts!

Actually, I want to hear about your favorite regional dishes, wherever you hail from. What is something you enjoy eating that the rest of the country might not be familiar with? Bonus points if Microsoft Word tries to correct you.

Countdown: 83 Days

12 thoughts on “From Chinook to Chislic

  1. For us in the Binghamton area of NYS, it’s the spiedie. (Earning me some extra MSWord points, that.) I have several friends who have moved out of state and both feel the need to order the marinating sauce online to make these gems. Spiedies are an outdoor cookout staple – just as essential as hot dogs and hamburers. No veggies, just meat and bread, period!


    1. Thanks for the link! Never heard of a spiedie, but it looks really good. Kind of reminds me of chislic on bread, actually. Next time I’m in Binghamton, I know what I’m ordering!


  2. I could get behind chislic!

    Where I grew up in Connecticut we didn’t have any culinary oddies. Now that I’m in Rhode Island, I’ve been introduced to the wonder that is the hot weiner. Getting it “all the way” is preferred: soft steamed bun, weiner (DON’T call it a hot dog, it comes in a long snake and is cut to size before grilling), mustard, meat sauce, onions (I have mine without these), and celery salt. Wash it down with a cold coffee milk or Del’s Lemonade (like a soft Italian ice) and you’ve basically just eaten Rhode Island for lunch. Even Alton Brown approves:

    We’ve also got clam cakes and our own Rhode Island chowdah, with a clear broth instead of cream-based (don’t ever put tomatoes in your chowder here), and stuffies, aka stuffed clams. There’s a large Portuguese population in RI and southeast MA, so we can get malasadas too (though not filled with exotic flavors of pastry cream) along with chourico and bacalhau and other iterations of codfish. We have lots of Italian influence here too, so if you ever come to Providence I’d suggest Federal Hill where you can get any kind of pasta and sauce imaginable.

    Whew, I’m making myself hungry.


    1. Reading that certainly made me hungry! I don’t know which sounds the tastiest, so I won’t even bother trying to rank them. All I know is, I want to try them ALL. Thanks for sharing!


  3. I was surprised when I moved only about 35 miles north to Cleveland and discovered a new world of food, thanks to the huge Eastern European influence. Notably: perogis (mashed potato and cheese filled pasta dumpling fried in butter and served with sour cream), po’ boys (kielbasa sandwich covered in fries and coleslaw and hot sauce or BBQ sauce) and stadium (brown) mustard. I can honestly say I’ve never had any of those, as just not my thang! However, the desserts are magnificent: cassata cake (strawberries and custard filled white cake), kolatchky (many spellings on this, but it’s a flaky pastry cookie with fillings like apricot jam or nuts or cream cheese), paczki (jelly filled donut) and the best of all – Buckeyes! If you don’t know what that is, I feel sorry for you.

    I just read the Thrillist article and I’m shocked that other places don’t have frozen custard! Whaaaaatttttt?


    1. I’m actually familiar with perogis and kolatchky – must be my Polish heritage at play. In fact, my mom often makes a version of kolatchky at Christmas, half with apricots and half with prunes. Good stuff!

      You can find frozen custard out here, but it’s not real common. We had a great place called Sheridan’s Frozen Custard right here in Vancouver, WA that just closed down last year after a long run. We were pretty bummed. Word has it Rally Pizza down the street from us has excellent frozen custard, though.


  4. Well Mark, of course you know what I am going to say….a Philly Cheesesteak 🙂 Which. as you also know, is not a favorite of mine. But what I do love here, as well as NYC, are all the deeelicioius Italian foods and pastries. Oh, and also….Italian water ice during the summer months. LOVE it! Also, soft pretzels covered in mustard. Yummy!

    Oh… thing I discovered while living in Amsterdam for a summer was the way they eat their French fries – dipped in mayonnaise instead of ketchup. Didn’t think I would like it at all, but MAN…did I end of loving it! When I came back to the States, I even started eating fries dipped in tarter sauce. Faaaaaaaabulous!


    1. I am SHOCKED by your answer. Ha! (No, I’m not. Not even a little.) Trenton also has a robust Italian food scene, which is something that’s hard to find out west. Also, I’m glad you like your soft pretzels with mustard. That’s the only way to eat them IMHO!

      I’ve tried french fries dipped in mayo and you’re right, they are not bad at all. Those Europeans are onto something.


  5. Chislic looks delicious! I am from the St. Louis area. Here we have toasted ravioli! Basically just ravioli but breaded and fried. It’s so good!


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