Just remember this: If someone asks if you want to “come with,” you reply, “You bet.”
See? It’s not like Minnesota is a foreign country with its own language. All of our words are English — they just sometimes are in an unconventional order or mean something you don’t expect.
Take bars. While the current hoopla has you thinking about places with ales and IPAs, here bars also mean small squares of pastry, often cakelike, sometimes topped with streusel, but always baked in a 9-by-13-inch pan. A mainstay of potlucks.
Here are a few other terms to make your stay here a hoot (which is what we call a fun time).
The Cities: Where you are now. It’s the blanket term for Minneapolis and St. Paul, although it often describes the entire metro area. And yes, despite the “the,” we know there are more cities in the world than ours. Still, ours are pretty good.
Fish house: A small building with trapdoors in the floor, dragged onto a frozen lake for shelter while fishing through a hole drilled into the ice. There’s always cold beer and sometimes people even fish.
Hot dish: A mélange of vegetables and meat, traditionally bound by cream of mushroom soup and glorified with Tater Tots. Often called a casserole in less literal states. A mainstay of potlucks (pictured above).
Minnesota Nice: A complex term. It’s a spirit of genuine goodwill, i.e., having jumper cables in the trunk so you’ll always be able to help. But it’s also an emotional reserve that, while unfailingly polite, keeps folks at a distance. Some equate this with passive-aggressiveness, which just goes to show you can’t please everyone, right?
Lutefisk: Dried cod reconstituted in lye. A Scandinavian food that is rarely consumed in Scandinavia anymore. Minnesotans, however, have church suppers devoted to the stuff.
Supper: The evening meal which, elsewhere, is called dinner. (Dinner is what many rural Minnesotans call lunch.) Its usage is waning, however, mostly because all the kids are moving to the Cities.
That’s interesting: An all-purpose response, especially if you don’t understand or (let’s be frank) like what’s just been said. See: Minnesota Nice.
Uff da: An expression of dismay, disbelief, weariness or exasperation. If someone says this to you, don’t take it personally. Just nod and respond, “You bet.”