The South Dakota Legislature has once again taken up an issue that couldn’t be more important. 

Mixed in with the trivial questions of how best to address the opioid epidemic, whether to give state employees a raise for the first time in a few years and whether public schools should be banned from teaching about gender identity, is the all important question of whether chislic should be declared our state nosh.  

This issue has the potential to impact everyone in the state. It could set us all up for success or failure, several dollars worth of tourism are stake here. That is why Senate Bill 96 needs to pass. But before it does, it needs a little work. 

Chislic is, as we all know, South Dakota’s claim to culinary fame. We just can’t all agree on what exactly it is. Generally, chislic is fried, roughly one-inch chunks of red meat served with a side of white sauce. The sauce can be ranch or horse radish or both. Beyond these very few, very basic components, things go a little off the rails. 

For example, there are some crazed lunatics out there marketing battered, cubed steak tips as chislic. Chislic, by definition, can’t be battered, those would be chicken-fried-steak nuggets. Or can it be battered? 

You see, one of the great failings of SB 96 is that it doesn’t define what chislic is. There is, in fact, a significant, often violent debate over whether beef can be chislic. It can’t, that’s called frying steak tips. We all know this. 

Chislic is lamb or mutton. Always has been, always will be. But again, SB 96 doesn’t make this clear. Without a definition we could have some clown out there marketing fried, cubed goat as chislic. 

The bill also doesn’t make clear that chislic is unique to and can only be found right here in South Dakota. Much like real champagne can only come from Champagne, real chislic can only be made in South Dakota. There is precedent for this notion, just look at the state law regarding Black Hills Gold jewelry. 

 Senate Bill 96 needs to include strict purity and location guidelines so chislic consumers don’t get confused or worse, ripped off by some Minnesota flim flammer trying to pass off fried cubes of locally raised yak as chislic. We need to make sure that if someone wants chislic they have to come to South Dakota to get it. 

It’s a good thing, then, that the state House Health and Human Services Committee deadlocked this week on whether to recommend chislic as the state nosh. There’s still time to add these important amendments to this important bill.   

Our legislators really are earning their pay this year.

 

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