Thursday, November 11, 2010

Typically American

posted by Luke Ware, guest blogger.

Ryan Casey over at the Argus Leader gives us a recipe for what it means to be a South Dakotian (and American.) Casey’s article, “My Voice: Let's rise above cynicism, racism of claims about food at voter rallies” is a response to claims by both Democrats and Republicans in South Dakota who have charged each other with buying votes with food during early voting for the 2010 General elections. Investigations are ongoing. State and federal law does not allow votes to be bought with someth

ing of monetary value (e.g, you can’t give someone money to vote). The debate started when members of the Democratic Party hosted three chili feeds on Indian reservations during a time when early voting booths were open. Republicans complained to the State Attorney General’s Office claiming the feed was in violation of federal voting laws. Meanwhile, the Republican party was hosting events that provided chips and hot dogs to attendees. Casey, advocating for a cease fire, argues:

“We don't need to be scared about Indians getting a bag of potato chips at an election rally. Instead, the constant and systematic effort to disenfranchise some of our fellow South Dakotans - and the subtle attempts to coax out the worst in us and play on our racial sensitivities - should elicit the true moral outrage in South Dakota elections.”

Here, Casey interrogates the discourse for what it is; party pandering and desperate attempts by both political parties to get in a few final blows. Casey goes on to say:

“In our state, we believe that every citizen is a child of God, a fellow American and a fellow South Dakotan. Wherever your ancestors came from, in South Dakota we're raised to believe that everyone who works hard and plays by the rules should have an equal opportunity to live, to work, to raise a family, and to vote.”

I applaud Casey for his interrogation of political discourses, but I’m concerned about his truth-telling. Perhaps Casey indeed believe that everyone who works hard and plays by the rules will be met equally in America, but it seems that South Dakota is proof alone that those words are wrong. Why? In a moment.

Certainly, Casey, your words are spirited, but they seem to be just as empty as the Republicans and Democrats bantering about election food. “We don’t need to be scared about Indians getting a bag of potato chips at an election rally”, I certainly agree. What we need to be afraid of is how many Native Americans are not getting any food at all on Election Day. According to the 2000 census, 61% of families living in the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation (one host of the chili feed) live below the federal poverty line while 63% are unemployed. Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, and other reservations in South Dakota, are some of the poorest regions in the U.S.

On the surface, Casey seems to be interrogating political discourses of the American Politic. In the end though, he gives us the same hollow rhetoric on the American spirit. It would be lovely if success was just a matter of pulling up our bootstraps, but it’s not.

In honor of these hollow words, I offer a recipe. Great American rhetoric during election time reminds me of a rather entertaining dessert; the good old-fashioned American Apple pie. “As American as Apple Pie” is a slogan recognized worldwide and is often used in daily vernacular. The Cambridge dictionary defines it simply to mean, “to be typically American." I offer to you not the standard golden brown, cinnamon-infused gooey apple delight shown in magazines and on television. Instead I offer something much more devious, hollow, and fitting: The Mock Apple Pie.

It looks mouth wateringly delicious, and deceptively passes as the Real Deal when looked at from afar all the time. Something about its core is rotten, however. The missing piece? There are no Apples. Back in the day of the pioneers, this little gem had a simple saltine core. Now? RITZ crackers have cornered the market.

And there you have it. The Great American Apple Pie, without the Apples. To be fed at all political and celebratory occasions where your pie can be as hallow as your rhetoric.

(Recipe Source:

What You Need

Pastry for 2-crust 9-inch pie

36 RITZ Crackers, coarsely broken (about 1-3/4 cups crumbs)

2 cups sugar

2 tsp. cream of tartar

Grated peel of 1 lemon

2 Tbsp. lemon juice

2 Tbsp. butter or margarine

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

Make It

PREHEAT oven to 425°F. Roll out half of the pastry and place in 9-inch pie plate. Place cracker crumbs in crust; set aside.

MIX sugar and cream of tartar in medium saucepan. Gradually stir in 1-3/4 cups water until well blended. Bring to boil on high heat. Reduce heat to low; simmer 15 minutes. Add lemon peel and juice; cool. Pour syrup over cracker crumbs. Dot with butter; sprinkle with cinnamon. Roll out remaining pastry; place over pie. Trim; seal and flute edges. Slit top crust to allow steam to escape.

BAKE 30 to 35 minutes or until crust is crisp and golden. Cool completely.

No comments:

Post a Comment