Friday, June 5, 2009

Wisconsin Foods

There are foods that I'm told are uniquely Wisconsin. Most are fat filled, cholesterol laden, bypass precipitating foods, but we love 'em.

Bratwurst is a number one favorite. For those of you unfamiliar with this food, I must clarify the pronunciation: braht-woorst is the correct way to say it not brat-woorst. It always amuses us Wisconsinites when Illinois people mispronounce it. In other states an Italian sausage is comparable. The best brat is a grilled brat and some people boil it in beer prior to grilling (Wisconsinites love their beer).

I, myself, do not eat bratwurst. I loved them until 1973 when I worked at the Hillshire Farm meat packaging plant during college summers. I worked in packaging so saw, smelled, and handled bratwurst and hotdogs hours per day. It isn't how the brats are made that bothers is the memories of freshly made brats, hanging on racks, and seeing the fat globs in them that forever turned me off.

Deep fried foods are always a hit here. Since we live in the Dairy State, deep fried cheese curds are a favorite artery clogger. Cheddar and mozzarella cheese curds are breaded and deep fried which melts the cheese inside the coating. These I eat because they are so darn tasty. I've also had deep fried pickles, deep fried green olives, and deep friend green beans. Sometimes it just seems cooks want to turn healthy foods unhealthy!
Friday night fish fries are a year 'round tradition. While this probably goes back to the Catholic tradition of no meat Fridays, Wisconsin does it right when it comes to Friday fish. Almost every restaurant has some kind of Friday fish fry and a favorite is perch. The fish is breaded, fried, and accompanied by tarter sauce, French fries, coleslaw, and buttered rye bread.

Venison is a popular meat and there is an especially large population of hunters in Wisconsin. Venison can be made into hamburger, steaks, sausage, and roasts but it must be cooked in certain ways so it doesn't taste gamey. Now, I do not like venison because I always think it tastes "funny." I do like the venison sausage although it does not agree with me. But, I have friends who use venison as a staple of their diets. I also prefer not to have looked into the eyes of my food prior to dining.....I like to think that any meat has always been in the packaged form from the grocery store.

Come state and county fair time the fat and calorie content of favorite foods goes up several notches. Maybe these foods are standard in all states at summer fairs. Cream puffs are a huge favorite at the state fair. I have not had the luxury of having one but always hear rave reviews.
Walking tacos are another hit. All the taco ingredients are mixed together in a baggie and its eaten with a spoon or fork while walking around the fair.
Stick food is interesting at fairs. Most of us are used to corn dogs on a stick and cotton candy but pork chops on a stick? Yup. Deep fried and stuck on a stick, the pork chop now becomes walkable.

Not all of our foods are unhealthy or fried. While not uniquely Wisconsin, they are grown here and thoroughly enjoyed by the state's citizenry. Door County cherries are a huge hit and a tourist attraction. This county is a peninsula into Lake Michigan and the bay of Green Bay. Cherry trees grow well in the climate and mid summer many of us head to the Door to pick cherries. Apple picking is another Door County activity.

Strawberry picking is a traditional family activity for many in the state. Pickers ride to the patches on a tractor pulled wagon, given a row to pick and containers for the berries and off you go! These are usually ripe at the end of June and part of the appeal is that you can eat as many berries as you wish while picking.

Last, but not least, dairy products. This state has excellent cheese. Cheddar is king and there is aged cheddar (the best in my book), medium, or mild cheddar. Another favorite of mine is pepper jack. This is a mild white cheese with biting pepper in it. Mmmmmm. Despite current diet trends in the nation, a cheese platter is usually standard at parties in Wisconsin.
There you have it! Wisconsinites are not necessarily the healthiest eaters in the Union, but our food is delicious!

1 comment:

Cheryle said...

Amazing how many food commonalities between Wisconsin and the Pacific Northwest!

I am quite partial to our Tillamook cheeses, though have also enjoy Wisconsin cheese. We also, of course, grow apples and cherries, and our strawberries have so much sugar in them that the season is only about 3 weeks long - then they start to ferment!

I understand why you don't eat brats (any close contact with food tends to turn one off of that food, I've found!), but I sure love 'em. As far as the fried stuff? Well, I'm from the South, so need I say more? I sure would like to try those pork chops, though! :0