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The 'tater tot hotdish burrito' is here to save you from winter

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Winter took its time coming to Minnesota, but now seems to have arrived for good.

There are few legitimate refuges from accumulating snow, wicked winds, and below-freezing temperatures. We're here to report the sighting of a new reprieve in Duluth, previously known as a port city on Lake Superior that offered scant shelter from the elements. (Consider its "ice shards" and its frozen ghost ships.)

Come January 1, the Burrito Union restaurant will begin serving an ultimate form of Minnesota-specific comfort food. They're calling it the "Tater Tot Hotdish Burrito," and it has arrived just in time to rescue you from winter.

Burrito Union's new offering features beef, onions, garlic, rice, and cheese, each of them fairly predictable ingredients in American-style Mexican food.

But it's the inclusion of green beans, tater tots, and cream of mushroom soup that carves a path from Mexico to Minnesota, the steps of which cannot be retraced.

"We were looking for something that represented comfort food," says Marissa Saurer, marketing director for Just Take Action, which handles inquiries for Burrito Union and Fitger's, among other purveyors of food and drink in Duluth. "This is like a Minnesota church-basement potluck that's wrapped up in a tortilla."

When the hefty Tex-Minn offerings were handed to a fortunate group of focus group members, Saurer says the experience took some right back to their childhood. Duluth's got a lot of regional transplants and college kids, and these flavors taste like home to them.

"It's reminiscent of foods they had growing up in their family," Saurer says. "Probably some of them were a little bit homesick."

Homesick and cold, no doubt. No longer. Behold the foil-wrapped brick of comfort that will get you through whatever January brings. The tater tot hotdish burrito (retailing for $9) will only be on Union's menu through the end of that month.

The memories it awakens will last a lifetime.