It's that time of year, when the best-of lists come out. And as usual, they leave a lot of room for debate.
For example, GQ food critic Alan Richman released a list of the best new restaurants in the country. Anytime any national critics do these things, there seems to be some sort of formula they are required to follow: most places are in California or New York, most of the rest are still in coastal cities, but maybe Boston, Seattle or Portland, and there is one token Midwestern spot. Which will be in Chicago.
I can't argue with any of Richman's picks ... I have been to exactly none of them and they all sound amazing. What I can argue with is this constant snubbing of the Midwest in these types of things. Come on, people, we have good food here outside of Chicago! Even here in the Rust Belt, there's more to eat than just meat and potatoes and pizza.
Chicago's an outstanding food town, true. But even here in economically-depressed Detroit we've had nationally known pastry chefs, a few Top Chef contestants (OK, no one who's gone past week 3, but still), and incredible restaurants.
Traverse City, in northern Michigan, is considered one of the top food destinations in the country and even celeb chef Mario Batali has a house nearby (and had been very active in supporting their land conservancy). And yes, we have amazing pizza and craft beer that rivals any place in the country.
With all the farmland here in the Midwest, local food is incredible (during the five or so months of our the year we can actually grow stuff). Trends come slowly, but we don't chase ridiculous food fads, either.
On other words, we're no flyover country for great food ... and I wish more people knew it.
Image via Kevin Dooley/Flickr