And now, area code-gate?

The New York Times’ Public Editor — the Times’ version of an ombudsman — has joined in the criticism of her newspaper over the assertion that Minnesotans have a near love affair with grape salad at Thanksgiving.

“After Lefse ended up chosen for North Dakota and Wild Rice for Wisconsin, The Times had to look beyond the obvious. (And this, clearly, was well beyond. A phone call or two — take a stab at any seven numbers after a 612 or 218 area code — to see if the recipe checked out would have been a good idea.),” Margaret Sullivan wrote today.

Watching the Times’ “foodies” squirm to explain the article could, however, become a Thanksgiving tradition here. It’s that entertaining. Well, more entertaining that hitting KMart on Black Friday.

“We also realized that we had to offer a balance of protein, side dishes and so on,” Sam Sifton, who’s in charge of the Times’ food coverage told Sullivan.

Enter Grape Salad, which, he said, “has a rich history in the upper Midwest, although it is an old recipe and it’s out of fashion.”

No! It doesn’t! That’s what the upper Midwest has been trying to tell you, New York Times.

Mr. Sifton said that the recipe appears in regional and state cookbooks. He mentioned, particularly, one by Joyce Lamont, a well-known local food journalist.

At any rate, he said, the dish is worth a shot next week. “It’s delicious,” he said. “I hope a lot of people try it.”

However, to prove that he’s listening, Mr. Sifton said that he was working on a Times recipe for a true Minnesotan specialty, Hotdish.

Back in Minnesota, Kate Parry — an assistant managing editor at the Star Tribune — decided against her original plan to bring doughnuts to her staff Thursday morning.

“I knew after reading the Times yesterday that what they would really be craving was grapes,” she wrote to me. “So that’s what they got.”

And, who knows, maybe it’ll catch on. Mike DeCamp, chef de cuisine at La Belle Vie in Minneapolis, said he would expand his oeuvre to include the dish. And as Mark Reilly put it in The Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal: “When life gives you grape salad, put it on the menu.”

The article ended with an oh-so-Minnesotan correction to Sullivan’s original story.

Updated for area code appeasement, 2:37 p.m.

Somebody was insulted that their area code was left out of the Times’ article.