To those outside the Midwest, it’s a somewhat perplexing term, like calling the sun bright orb or a pond wet circle. Maybe casserole was too tricky to spell, so the term took over. Often served by women with the “acorn” haircut at church potlucks, family gatherings, and your uncle Joe’s funeral. There are as many different hot dishes as there are lakes in Minnesota, but some typical ingredients include macaroni noodles, hamburger, tater tots, cheese, cheese, cheese, and cream of mushroom soup. Just as peaty scotches are best enjoyed in front of a roaring fire, the hot dish tastes best when there’s an icy bite to the air. Maybe because its caloric density acts as internal long underwear, insulating for winter.