Hey there! I’m writing to you from the bumpy backseat of our gold truck, driving through the Wisconsin peninsula on our way to Greenbay, where we left our trailer last night at a BP with a blown tire. This is our third flat of the tour so far, not bad I suppose, considering we’re carrying 20,000 lbs. The cities and the states and the timezones pass so quickly that I find myself forgetting to document it. Maybe that’s what this flat tire’s for.
One of my favorite memories of tour so far is our jaunt in North and South Dakota last week. It was two of the new states we’re going to this year that will complete all 50 for us, and they were great. I learned that people say their “O”s differently and both states hate when you call them “The Dakotas.”
In South Dakota, it was Charlie & Betsy at Johnson Farms, a beautiful vast field of hay bales and soybeans and a corn field I got lost in with our truck. The farm focuses on growing organic feed for livestock. The farmers were sweet and accommodating, and it was one of our first tables in an endless plain.
I loved the way the sun set there, and the starkness of the table, sticking out from the ground. We were in the midst of a three day stretch of farm dinners in three different states, becoming increasingly sleep-deprived and surviving on cold brew coffee that we had stashed in our cooler. North Dakota landed on the last day of that stretch, and we arrived exhausted to a cold and windy morning. But it is still one of my favorite events of the season so far.
I think we all felt the same connection to it. I don’t know whether it was all of the extraordinarily nice people, or the horizon that seemingly went on forever, the sun that set slowly in the fields and tie-dyed the sky – but there was something special in the air there. The farmers, Hannah and Jonathan, are young and bright and friendly, and had baby goats and a greenhouse and rows of vegetables that Chef Ryan Nitschke (of HoDo in Fargo) made into a roasted vegetable salad with farm greens and local feta.
It was a great example of what our dinners aim to do, and why I wanted to work them in the first place – large groups of people gathered around the same table in the field that their food came from. The time between courses was longer there, because people talked so much and took their time with it.
There comes to be a certain routine to all of this after a while – but there are still those moments that I look out at the fields we’re in and feel mesmerized. This was one of them, reminding me how badly I had wanted this and how incredible it is to actually be here doing it. For first dinners, they were magical – ripe with bright excited guests, who made it warm and welcoming and, even overworked and undercaffeineted, possible to really really enjoy ourselves. Thanks for having us, Dakota. You’re legendary.