Research Outline

Dishes in Middle America


To identify what food dishes have come to define the identity of states in Middle America, both historically and today. Middle America is defined as the central, midwestern, and southern states of the United States. Dishes is defined as recipes and combinations of food that are perceived as a meal and have cultural relevance to the place it is prepared and the people who cook and consume it.

Early Findings

  • Insights about dishes in North Dakota have been added to the attached spreadsheet.
  • Additional research can be conducted to fill in the spreadsheet for the rest of the states.


  • Knoephla: Creamy dumpling and potatoe soup.
  • Still popular in North Dakota today, Knoephla soup originates in Germany was brought to North Dakota by German settlers. Even as late as 2009, 50% of people living in North Dakota were of German ancestry. According to Ben Myhre, whose family has long been cooking the soup, "all of the ingredients in a modern Knoephla soup are things that would have been available to [North Dakota] settlers and crops that woud have been stored in the celler for winter food."


  • Kuchen: Meaning 'cake' in German, Kuchen is a thick custard pie atop a sweet dough crust.
  • In 2019, Kuchen was voted as North Dakota's official dessert. This dish is often served at holiday gatherings in North Dakota.