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The Essential Dear Dara

The Essential Dear Dara

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Writings on Local Characters and Memorable Places

Author Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl

Minnesota Historical Society Press (September 6, 2023)

A portrait of a place and its people through the writings and musings of one of the Twin Cities’ most beloved and prolific writers.


For 25 years, Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl has been a fixture of Twin Cities life, telling the stories of our people, places, and (sometimes delicious) things. If journalism is the first draft of history, what Dara does—reported features and essays—are more like the first draft of culture. What do we see looking back at a quarter-century of Dara? A place brimming with unforgettable Minnesota eccentrics—from libertarians at the gas station to Aquatennial Queens to artists working in the medium of dog hair. A place full of culinary adventurers and ambassadors—the Ann Kims, Sean Shermans, and Juicy Lucys in our midst. A place profound and complex—from George Floyd Square to the shores of mighty Lake Superior. A place uniquely Twin Cities and Minnesotan.

Most great cities have a great columnist. Jonathan Gold said that Los Angeles was the real topic of his food writing, coming into specific view wherever he shone his flashlight and raised his spoon. New York City had Jimmy Breslin and Dara’s early writing hero, Joseph Mitchell, each of whom expressed something essential about their city through the tales of sports heroes, skid-row charmers, and mobsters. Dara’s Twin Cities is just as evocative, but of course completely different. It is a must-read for people who want to meet the people in that neighborhood of four million souls who call the land in and around the upper Mississippi home.

Revisit Dara’s favorite stories from the last 25 years, including columns, profiles, and restaurant reviews from the pages of City Pages, Minnesota Monthly, Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, Gourmet, and Saveur. Each piece includes a brief introduction putting the piece in context and explaining why Dara considers it among her quintessential contributions to Minnesota life and culture. Together these works capture the art of this essential columnist, food writer, and voice of the Twin Cities. They also show a Minnesota rarely seen, one where a writer’s enthusiasm, humor, passion, and curiosity are rewarded with secrets and wonders.

Author Information

Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl is one of the most awarded magazine writers in the country, with six James Beard Award wins (and 15 nominations)-the so-called Oscars of food world-and another 6 CRMAs, known as the Pulitzers of magazines. She grew up in New York City, little aware of her destiny: to write about the quirks and passions, the foods and cocktails, the people and places of Minnesota. She started her work life as a 13-year-old restaurant dishwasher and, after coming to Minnesota to attend Carleton College, became City Pages' restaurant critic in 1997. Since then she has worked as a staff writer, columnist, and critic at Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, Delta Sky, Minnesota Monthly, Gourmet, Saveur, Food & Wine, Experience Life, Bon Appétit, and other publications. For eight years she hosted a radio show on WCCO called "Off the Menu," and she is a regular guest on Minnesota Public Radio. She lives in south Minneapolis with a dog the size of a cat, a cat the size of a cat, and two children who are much bigger than cats and want to be left out of it. She would like everyone to know that Minneapolis is one of the best places in the world, as long as you have a lot of pairs of boots and love snow, which she does.

  • Trade Paperback
  • 304 pages
  • 9 in H | 6 in W
  • ISBN: 9781681342757

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