A Visit to Southeast South Dakota is Simply Delicious
June 20th, 2013 By Cindy Mason
The best way to explore Southeast South Dakota may be discovering some of the unique foods found here, especially the ethnic foods found in many of our communities. Several towns have annual festivals that celebrate foods made from recipes their ancestors passed down from generation to generation. Here’s a few that I highly recommend.
Kuchen is a big favorite, evidenced by the fact that it’s South Dakota’s state dessert. You’ll find this sweet custard and fruit filled pastry at more than one area festival. Peach is my personal favorite, but there are many other options: poppy seed, apple, prune, cherry and many more. At Freeman’s Schmeckfest in March you can eat your fill of it at the German family-style meal. That is, if you have any room left after this popular multi-course meal. They serve a thousand people every night for two weekends, so you know it’s worth the trip. If you’re too full by the time the kuchen arrives, no problem, you can get kuchens of every flavor to take home with you. While you’re there, get some homemade sausage too. I recommend the smoked sausage! You can also watch as it’s being made. But, I digress. Another festival where you can indulge in South Dakota’s state dessert is Delmont’s Kuchen Festival held every September in conjunction with the Old Time Harvest Festival.
For a different ethnic twist on a fruit filled pastry, try a kolache. You’ll find an endless variety of them at Tabor’s Czech Days in June. But don’t wait until the end of the festival, because they sell out. They will also show you how to make your own kolaches at home during their baking demos.
Or eat like a Viking at Viborg’s Danish Days Festival. Explore ethnic foods like aebleskiver and traditional open face sandwiches. “What is aebleskiver?” you ask. It’s a round pancake. “All pancakes are round” you say? Not like these. They are shaped like a little ball. “How do you make them round?” you may wonder. You need a special pan and it takes a bit of practice. I know because I’m Danish and I’ve made a few aebleskiver in my day.
Ever heard of chislic? If you aren’t from Southeast South Dakota, chances are you haven’t. It’s bite-size cubes of mutton deep friend to perfection and served on a stick. We can thank the immigrants from Russia who brought it here in the 1800s. It can be served a number of ways, but most popular seems to be with a dash of garlic salt and soda crackers. There aren’t any chislic festivals that I am aware of, but you can find it at cafes, county fairs and community celebrations in the Freeman, Menno, Marion, Parker & Parkston area. You can also find variations made with beef at some Sioux Falls eateries.
These are just a few of the unique eats here, but it should be enough to get you started. You'll discover even more along the way. I know you’ll enjoy eating your way across scenic, serene and simply delicious Southeast South Dakota. Enjoy!