Bizarre Twin Cities

Andrew Zimmern and friends present 72 weird and wonderful foods, finds, and fun.

Bizarre Twin Cities
Steve Henke

Bizarre Are Us

Neighborhood Snapshots

treeA tree with attitude in West St. Paul. Who says animals don’t laugh?statueIt’s true, some of us would like to live closer to the ocean.


Richard ElioffTRASH DADDY
Find funky retro deals at Richard Elioff's garage sales. Be nice and maybe he'll let you see his funky retro house. trashdaddy.comClocks CLOCKS
Next time you're at Butcher and the Boar, look across the street. Behind the door lives a man who loves to talk about his vast cuckoo clock collection.Ron BlakeyTHEATER ON ICE
Roy Blakey has spent more than 70 years collecting memorabilia from the Ice Follies, Ice Capades, and other ice-skating spectacles. icestagearchive.com


Seems like Minnesotans will try anything while driving, then pass a law to stop it. In 1949, the state responded to a popular new technology by passing a law making it illegal for drivers to watch TV. It stated: “No television screen shall be installed or used in any motor vehicle at any point forward of the back of the driver’s seat, or which is visible to the driver while operating the motor vehicle.” But what about LCD screens?

Run Like Crazy

Like sack races and egg-in-spoon relays, these runs combine exercise with silly fun.

OCTOBER 14: WORLD'S LARGEST CORN MAZE RUN. This family-friendly race at Sever’s Corn Maze forces runners and walkers to weave their way through one of the nation’s largest corn mazes. Extra points for making corny jokes as you navigate hundreds of turns. 1100 Canterbury Rd., Shakopee, allcommunitymn.com

Like a pedal pub but without the pedaling. Sample free beer at Minneapolis hot spots as you jog around downtown. Finally, an occasion designed for those high-heeled athleisure shoes. Nicollet Mall & South 7th Street, Mpls., cityrunningtours.com/minneapolis

Something in the Atmosphere

We take pride in weathering extremes, but these three weather events were downright freaky.

1930s DROUGHT. Back-to-back dry, hot growing seasons devastated Minnesota farms and crops. The dry spell peaked in 1936, set record-high temperatures, and turned rich black soil into lifeless dust.

1940 ARMISTICE DAY BLIZZARD. Nov. 11, 1940, started out as a mild day, but a massive snowstorm changed that. The results: 16.7 inches of snow in the Twin Cities, 26.6 inches in Collegeville, and 49 lives lost.

1991 HALLOWEEN BLIZZARD. It buried pumpkins and candy dreams in 28.4 inches of snow.

Mirror, Mirror

It's true: Bee stings and bird poo can do wonders for your skin.

BEE VENOM FACIAL. The beauty world has been buzzing since Kate Middleton received a facial with bee-sting venom prior to her wedding day. It's been hyped as a needle-free alternative to Botox, but in reality the bee venom acts as a natural skin plumper, temporarily increasing blood flow and giving skin a healthy, English-rose glow. $95 for The Royal Treatment at Prischmann Facial Plastic Surgery, 5201 Eden Ave., Ste. 170, Edina, 952-567-7151

THE VAMPIRE FACELIFT. The newest way to nip and tuck doesn't require a scalpel—just your blood. For Selphyl, aka the vampire facelift, the patient's blood is drawn, spun to concentrate its platelet-rich plasma, and then injected into unwanted facial lines or scars. The results are immediate and can last two years, about twice as long as other facial fillers such as Juvederm and Restylane. Prices start at $950 at Crutchfield Dermatology, 1185 Town Centre Dr., Ste. 101, Eagan, 651-209-3600

NIGHTENGALE FACIAL. For centuries, geishas have maintained their porcelain complexions with . . . bird poop. It turns out that nightingale droppings contain guanine, which acts as a skin lightener and exfoliant. First, however, the droppings are sanitized and milled into an odorless powder that's then activated with distilled water and steam. Before you poo-poo the idea, consider this: Tom Cruise is rumored to be a fan.$45 add-on to the European Facial at Fusion LifeSpa, 18142 Minnetonka Blvd., Deephaven, 952-345-3335

Crimes and Misdemeanors

1898    It could be Minnesota's first case of road rage. Two drivers jumped out of their horse-drawn buggies on Portland Avenue near 15th Street and starting whipping one another. The action lasted two minutes before they rode away, and no one knew the cause of the squabble.

1910    Local hotel proprietor Lina Dale may have been charged with first-degree murder, but that didn't stop her from looking fabulous. She donned diamonds in county jail and even helped with the laundry. After the jury found her not guilty, she kissed every one of the jurors. Talk about sucking up.

1926    Architect Frank Lloyd Wright's philandering landed him a night in jail in Minneapolis. After dodging authorities in Milwaukee and Chicago, he shacked up with dancer Olga Milanoff in a Lake Minnetonka cottage. Lucky for Wright, the infidelity charge was eventually dropped.

1939    A 15-year-old Minneapolis boy pulled off quite a prank-calling scam. He placed phony phone orders to local companies and had them deliver goods to his unsuspecting neighbor. Items included 75 liquor deliveries, 10 grocery orders, and two refrigerator trucks. His only punishment was a heavy scolding from local police.


There’s nothing ordinary about lutefisk.

Cripes, what can possibly be bizarre about Minnesota eats, you wonder in your tightly wrapped Scandinavian sweater? Haven’t we all agreed that people here don’t like things too rich, that we think ketchup is a spice, that in the land of Betty Crocker we like to know exactly what we’re going to get? You think the furthest we want to go is “interesting”? Think again.

Have you ever stopped to think just what lutefisk is? It’s butter-flavored fish Jell-O that's been cured in LYE, for crying out loud. (You know lye—the oven cleaner and drain opener?) And it’s a local cultural treasure! Bushmen eating worm pitas would blanch at the sight/smell. And don’t even start with the blood pudding. But yeah, we're bland.

Also, do you think it’s so normal that we have cream cheese in our wontons? It’s undoubtedly strange to Asian people, 90 percent of whom are lactose-intolerant. We can't even claim Rangoon, for the sad lack of crab. It wasn’t invented here, but it’s clearly been perfected and perpetrated here.

And let’s get right to the rabbit situation. While you still might not be so sure about the soft little succulent white meat, you’re probably closer to fine rabbit than your average New Yorker. Lenny Russo of Heartland years ago remarked how much easier it was to sell rabbit here than on the coasts, because we are one generation off the farm.

So you think you need to eat fermented rotten cabbage, duck feet, and stinky tofu to be so extreme? With our influx of new nationalities, you should have no problem finding those delicacies, but just remember: Bizarre is in the eye of the eater.

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