Monday, January 7, 2008

LOCAL GONDOLA TRADITIONS – Rhubarb Pie in Minnesota

There are lots of gondola operations in the US – around 35 at the moment, and many of them have been around for a decade or more. Most gondola companies outside Venice try their best to emulate the culture and traditions of their Venetian counterparts, while at the same time, some have developed traditions of their own.

Here is one such tradition:

The “Minnesota Rhubarb Pie” tradition

People who spend enough time around the water, eventually end up in the water. For years I’ve said that there are “two kinds of gondoliers – those who have fallen in the water, and those who are going to fall in the water”. Well, at Gondola Romantica in Stillwater, Minnesota, they’ve added a tradition to the mix: if a gondolier falls in the water, he or she has to bake a rhubarb pie for the rest of the staff. One gondolier named Joe Mitchell even gave the tradition a name: “Humble Pie”. Joe has a nickname of his own: “Single Dip” because he’s already gone in once. Joe’s older brother, also a gondolier there in Stillwater, is “Double Dip”…you guessed it, he’s had to bake two pies so far. The Mitchell’s sister who has just started with Gondola Romantica is determined not to follow in their footsteps. We’ll see.

Owner John Kerschbaum and his staff have kept this tradition going for 6 years now and it doesn’t look like it will go away any time soon. Gondoliers will undoubtedly keep falling in the water, and those around them will keep reminding them of their pie-baking responsibilities.

Gondola Romantica's website is:

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