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Wild Rice and RUTM // B1G 2022, Minnesota Potluck #2

Tanner Morgan and Mo Ibrahim, back for Round 8 or so. Can Kirk Ciarrocca put all the pieces together again?

Minnesota v Wisconsin
Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Making our way across northern Minnesota–don’t forget about that porketta in the Crock-Pot; we’ll serve it on Thursday, come hungry–not only does the landscape change as we cross into the cutover and hop the stones at the mouth of the Mississippi, but the people you encounter change, too.

Minnesota (from the Dakota Mni Sota Makoce, “Land Where the Waters Reflect the Clouds”) is home to eleven tribal nations: seven Anishinaabe reservations in northern Minnesota and four Dakota communities in southern Minnesota. Six of those seven Anishinaabe bands (Bois Forte, Mille Lacs, Fond du Lac, Grand Portage, Leech Lake, and White Earth) are united in the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe system of centralized governance, while the Red Lake Nation maintains its sovereignty, having declined in the so-called “Indian New Deal” of 1934 to give up its hereditary and communal system of governance and ownership. [Read Anton Treuer’s Warrior Nation for a fascinating history.]

In addition to a shared language, these tribal nations share a history and heritage found in the wild rice, or manoomin, of northern Minnesota. The Anishinaabeg followed a vision telling them to move to “where the food floats on water,” which they found near the shores of Gichigami (Lake Superior). Today, Minnesota restricts the harvest of wild rice to August 15-September 30, and Native nations along with state historical institutions have made widespread educational efforts to teach the public about the religious and cultural significance of manoomin:

In addition to providing the names of cities like Mahnomen, MN and Menomonie, WI, along with those spiritual traditions, wild rice has even become the focal point of a 2021 lawsuit brought against the Minnesota DNR by the White Earth Nation, which claimed “rights of nature” for wild rice in response to an energy company getting permission to remove 5 billions gallons of water for construction of a pipeline.

It is an interesting expression of the centrality of wild rice to Native life and, indeed, the cuisine and culture of Minnesota, too. You can buy wild rice and other products directly from the Ojibwe nations of northern Minnesota themselves – most, like Red Lake Nation and Bois Forte Nation, have set up websites for this purpose, though the wild rice shelves and stands at local grocery stores and gas stations of the Northwoods are perhaps the more timeless expressions of this longstanding food tradition.

So, writers:

1. Give us your wild rice recipe or story that we should take note of.

2. Any food that you are always sure to buy from a local gas station or convenience store, rather than the shelves of a big box grocer? (I swear to God, if anyone mentions getting a sandwich at a fucking East Coast gas station I will pull this car over and NO ONE gets Dairy Queen.)

Kind of…: I am the white son of a farmer. We never ate rice, wild or otherwise. Apologies, but no.

Since you don’t have to go into the convenience store to pay for gas anymore, if I am in convenience store, it’s probably a rest stop during a long drive, and I’m buying sunflower seeds. If I’m getty really reckless, maybe a bottle of Yoo-Hoo, and I never buy either at a grocery store.

MaximumSam: Wild rice? Like rice you go and find in the wild? Has anyone seen rice in the wild, or is it some sort of combination of the Yeti and the Loch Ness monster. Row The Boat and Find The Rice.

misdreavus79: Rice is a big part of Dominican culture, but not so much wild rice. So I’ll give you what I know: “Moro de guandules con pollo,” or rice with pigeon peas (not that garbage sweet variety), and chicken. One of my favorite meals growing up, and every time I see my sister I make her cook some.

When I still lived in New York, I would normally go to my local grocery store to buy Dominican-specific products for cooking. The closest Dominican store near me now is about an hour away, so I make do with the Indian store a block away, which has most of the things I need, and some others from Indian cuisine that are pretty great too!

MNW: It doesn’t really qualify, but surely there’s room here for a mention of Buc-ee’s brisket as a gas station special. The ubiquitous sweet corn stands throughout the Midwest are worth mention, too, though I like the gas stations on the Iron Range that have pasties for sale. Always with rutabagas.

I like a nice plain wild rice salad with cranberries, but during COVID I tried my hand at these Walleye Wild Rice Cakes—only with tilapia because money. But I’d love to try them again with some walleye.

BRT: My mom used to serve wild rice as a side dish fairly often when I was growing up. This was always from the box, the brand that is now known as “Ben’s Original.” Formerly, this was known as “Uncle Ben’s,” and like “Aunt Jemima” syrup, it took until 2020 for brands to actually act on the knowledge that using romanticized images of enslaved people as logos and branding was, uh, not great. I think I generally liked this rice, and as I recall, it was usually served alongside chicken breast, in a weekly nod toward healthy eating foisted upon my father.

I don’t know that “things sold in a convenience store” is a huge thing here, although it could be, I just rarely go into convenience stores. The best tacos in my town are in a store adjacent to a convenience store though–does that count?

However, this is not to say that convenience stores played no important role in my life in providing the unexpected. I grew up in a small town of about 2,200 people–there was literally one stoplight. This population level gets you a Subway and a Pizza Hut in Nebraska, but no Blockbuster. So for video rental options in the 90s, we had three:

  1. The library. Pros: free! Cons: overnight rental only, limited hours open so you had to really plan ahead
  2. Paul’s Video. For a few years, we had an actual rental store, which was a great delight. It was run by a Jehovah’s Witness family. Their son was in my grade, and we greatly pitied him for missing all of the class parties. :(
  3. Philmart. The gas station was the stalwart through all of these years. It had a video rental corner, and many were the weekend sleepover where we’d wheedle a ride and go see what Philmart had to offer. Usually, we rented Now and Then. I seem to remember the price being $3.17, though that seems high in retrospect, so perhaps not.

Anyway, this wasn’t food, but thanks for reawakening some Philmart memories. By the way, of those three things, only the library (and the Subway!) remains. Love your libraries, friends.


Wild rice?

This poll is closed

  • 41%
    Love it, and I’ll share my recipe in the comments.
    (33 votes)
  • 52%
    Won’t go out of my way, but sure.
    (42 votes)
  • 6%
    No thanks, but at least I learned something in this article.
    (5 votes)
80 votes total Vote Now

The Football

Wild rice is, to be sure, painstaking to prepare compared to other foods bearing the “rice” moniker–that’s in part because wild rice isn’t actually a rice but a cereal grain–it takes a minimum 40 minutes to cook.

That’s about as long as it takes a Gophers football half to finish [SEAMLESS TRANSITION, MNW] with as much as PJ Fleck and the Gophers like to run the ball. Without spoiling an amazing stat I brought up in the Minnesota podcast preview with Thump, Green Akers, and WSR [GREAT TEASE, MNW], regardless of coordinator, the Gophers have kept the ball on the ground…well, mostly with Mohamed Ibrahim leading the way.

Expect more of the same in 2022: even with Tanner Morgan returning, the Gophers run three-deep at worst in the backfield, with Ibrahim giving way to Trey Potts and Bryce Williams. There are questions at wide receiver after Chris Autman-Bell, and the emergence of TE Brevyn Spann-Ford would go a long way for the Minnesota passing game, but it looks like another year of the Gophers going as far as their RB-QB combo can take them.

So, writers:

1. Will Round 2 of Kirk Ciarrocca be as good as Round 1, given the extra seasoning on Tanner Morgan and Mo Ibrahim?

2. Should we be expecting big things out of the Gopher offense, or is Minnesota’s dogmatic commitment to Running the Ball going to ensure they’re nothing but a coin flip hopeful for the Big Ten West if other, more proven West-winners like Wisconsin, Iowa, and Northwestern (fuck off, you know it’s true) falter?

3. Name an iconic QB-RB pairing from your school’s history – preferably one that stuck around forever.

Kind of…: With all due respect to Ibrahim (and Chris Autman-Bell), the 2019 team had Tyler Johnson and Rashod Bateman combining for 2,500 yards. As UW has learned, if the other has a decent defense and tries hard enough, they can shut down the running game (see last year’s Axe game). Bell is nice, but he’s not Johnson or Bateman (and definitely not both). Fortunately for Minnesota, the Gophers can be plenty successful without hitting 2019 numbers.

As for QB-RB pairings…wait, are you really suggesting that Tanner Morgan-Mo Ibrahim is “iconic”? Really? If that’s iconic, then iconoclasm can be bought pretty cheap nowadays.

Russell Wilson-Montee Ball was pretty fucking fun in 2011. Otherwise, we’re definitely stretching the meaning of iconic, but there’s a soft spot in my heart for QB Mike Samuel-RB Ron Dayne. Samuel, 1996-1998: 680 pass attempts, 4823 yds, 22 TDs (and 27 INTs). Dayne, 1996-1998: 883 rush attempts, 5091 yards, 51 TDs. God bless Mike Samuel.

BoilerUp89: Ciarrocca Round 2 probably won’t live up to the hype. I don’t see a return to the big passing game they had previously under him. Minnesota’s dogmatic commitment to running the ball is going to be enough for them to go 7-2 and win the West. Because all schedules are not committed equal.

I’m struggling with the whole iconic RB part of the QB-RB pairing. Otis Armstrong and Mike Alstott were great rushers but didn’t play with great QBs. As much as I don’t think they are iconic, I guess I have to go with Curtis Painter and Kory Sheets as they played together for four years and both put up big numbers.

MaximumSam: Possibly? The Ciarrocca-Fleck tandem have developed some incredible receivers, including Corey Davis and Rashod Bateman. Do they have anyone like that on the roster? If so, that’s a pretty strong group.

misdreavus79: Sure, round two of the Ciarrocca experience can be just as good as round one. The difference now is that Minnesota doesn’t get eight straight absolute garbage matchups to get things going and a home game where one offensive pass interference call was the difference between losing to Iowa as an overrated team and losing to Iowa. That’s all to say yes, Minnesota can make it work, but don’t be surprised if they pull up to the Penn State game with one, or even two losses, this time around.

Minnesota is in the West, for as long as the West will exist (presumably two more seasons). So as a result, Minnesota will run the ball and pray to the gods that their drives end in scores. Now, unlike other West teams not named Purdue, they seem to have a quarterback that understands you throw the ball forward, so it’s possible Minnesota might take 15 minutes per drive instead of the typical 45 minutes it takes any given West team not named Purdue to finish any given drive.

Hmm, iconic QB-RB duos, well in reverse chronological order, we have:

  • Trace McSorley and Saquon Barkley
  • Daryll Clark and Evan Royster
  • Michael Robinson and Tony Hunt/Rodney Kinlaw
  • Zach Mills pre-injury and Larry Johnson, Jr.
  • Kerry Collins and Ki-Jana Carter

and a few more, but we’d have to go back to the 80s to list them. I’d say out of those the most famous ones are the oldest and newest, due to both what they did and how prolific each one was.

MNW: CJ Bacher and Tyrell Sutton, yes? YES?

BRT: I think most iconic for me would have to be Ronnie “Sunshine” Bass and Petey “The Running Back” Jones. Is anyone even reading these?


Are you even reading these?

This poll is closed

  • 57%
    (57 votes)
  • 13%
    (13 votes)
  • 29%
    I’m just here for the pictures
    (29 votes)
99 votes total Vote Now