Food/Groups

Where the Wild Things Grow

Editor's Note: This is an episode of Food/Groups, Thrillist's YouTube series based on the deep, delicious relationships between different communities and the foods/food rituals by which they define themselves. Subscribe to Thrillist's YouTube channel and tune in for a brand-new episode every Monday morning at 7am ET.

As the world’s most common food staple, rice is rarely a celebrity on the plate by itself. Which is why for this episode of Food/Groups, we went to a place where it is. The Star of the North: Minnesota.

The Land of 10,000 Lakes is also the land of wild rice -- a naturally occurring aquatic grass that’s knocked, finished, and sold by Native Americans whose ancestors have criss-crossed these waters in canoes doing more or less the very same thing for generations. While legit hand-picked & hand-finished wild rice can get expensive, it's an edible through-line that connects Minnesota’s pristine past with its modern culinary future. And Minnesotans of all stripes adore the stuff, from the First Peoples Ojibwe of White Earth Nation, to the brewers at Minneapolis' Lakes & Legends, to Andrew Zimmern himself (a longtime Minnesota resident) who hosted us at his studio for a meal and some musings about this unusual northern delicacy.

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