Calling (Amateur or Pro) Local Food Historians

Becca Dilley / MNHS

Local Author Seeks Recipes, Sources for Minnesota Sandwiches Book

MINNEAPOLIS, Feb. 10, 2010 — James Norton, co-author of The Master Cheesemakers of Wisconsin and editor of the Heavy Table, has been engaged by the Minnesota Historical Society to write a book about the state’s gastronomic and cultural history. In tandem with a team of writers and photographers, Norton hopes to use food history and gastronomy to open a door to broader topics.

The book will take a look at immigration and culture through the lens of a variety of sandwiches with meaningful Minnesota connections. They include the juicy lucy, the porketta (pictured above), the pasty, the torta, the fried walleye sandwich, the banh mi, the sambusa, the hot dago, the meatloaf sandwich, the beef commercial, the Scandinavian open-faced sandwich, and one or two others.

Norton is seeking information on recipes (particularly heirloom and / or church recipes with stories behind them), cultural and historical connections between the sandwiches and state history, and current masters of sandwich making — the best places to order and eat the sandwiches described in the book.

If you’ve got a story that might fit this book — or you’re a restaurant with a tradition that’s relevant — please get in touch.

You can contact the author at


  1. artsy

    Hey James,
    Mazel Tov on this book project! I think you are the perfect person to do it…sorry I don’t have any local lore to contribute. There were some weird sandwiches in my family. My foodie family with a dad who ordered entire wheels of Vermont sharp cheddar and maple syrup, YET…when it came time to make a grilled cheese sandwich….VELVEETA!! and it was good! with a bit of very thinly sliced raw onion and a slice of tomato, and Hellmann’s….

  2. James Norton

    Thanks for the kind words! Sometimes — and I say this as a cheese guy — American cheese is totally the way to go. Grilled cheese, for example… I’ve had my share of gourmet versions, but the old-school low-end classic often tastes best.

  3. James Norton

    The porketta was from Fraboni’s of Hibbing — this particular sandwich was served at Zimmy’s. Definitely one of the best sandwiches I’ve had in the past year.

  4. downtowner

    Whenver I go up to the iron range (where I’m from originally) I always bring a chest cooloer to bring back porkettas, beefettas, and turkettas. I actually find Frabonis porketta to be fatty – Jubilee Foods in Chisholm produces a much better product in my opinion.

    I should really start selling those bad boys down here I bet I could basically support my porketta habit and then some by charging a comission to buy for people.

  5. James Norton

    I gotta disagree with you on this one, downtowner — I didn’t get a bit of fattiness in my Fraboni’s porketta — it was really tender and deeply spiced. But I’m excited to try Jubilee Foods — next time I’m up there, I will definitely try and pick one up.

  6. Martin

    Is it worth it to remember the time when fine dining in Minneapolis meant Murry’s, Charlie’s Cafe Exceptionale, and the Normandy Room in the Radisson? My father liked the Normandy Room because they would do steak tartare for him on request. This is restaurant history, but still probably a useful inclusion.

  7. Pat

    The Polish sausage from Zup’s is all I gotta say. Well, the pasty from the old Tower Bakery (now being made at SuLu’s in Tower) are another thing I’ve got to mention. I grew up with the polish and the pasty so I know what I’m talking about.

Comments are closed.