Minnesota Nice refers to the way outsiders view us. In fact, the term is often used sarcastically. Minnesota's reputation as a cold state extends beyond our weather. When I meet out-of-staters who come here for school or jobs or relationships I always ask if they've made friends with any natives, and a typical answer is "No!" Apparently those of us who have lived here our entire lives already have our circles and those circles tend to be closed. The nonnatives form friendships with other nonnatives, and we Minnesotans carry on within the comfort of familiarity.
Ever since I was old enough to recognize a smile, I sought out friends. In my Baby Book my mother wrote, "Desperate to make friends." No matter how many friends I possessed, I wanted more. I collected kids on the playground at recess and gathered playmates at the park and pool. When a new kid arrived from Winthrop or Australia or Wisconsin, I invited them to join our group. My enthusiasm was likely terrifying for those nonnatives.
My first year after college I did payroll on campus at the Hort Department. When a bubbly red-headed student named Miranda (a.k.a. Valerie. Long story there.) breezed into my office and sat in the chair opposite my desk without being asked and immediately began telling me about how great her coffee was that morning, it was kismet. Miranda was from the West Coast: California, Portland, Seattle, and a number of other places that sounded fascinating. We quickly became friends.
Miranda had an internal honing device to find good breakfast treats. As skinny as she was, I never saw her without a coffee and pastry. The caffeine must have offset the calories. Today at Called to the Table I recall the way she brought scones into my life.
Got Fish Fry Fatigue? Head over to MarcusSamuelsson.com for my favorite way to make fish. My Scandinavian twist for brandade is easy and elegant.