Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Cheese, cheeseheads and football November 22, 2010

A glimpse of shoppers walking along Pearl Street in La Crosse, Wisc., as seen from inside Cheddarheads, a cow/cheesehead crazy gift shop.

I WENT TO THE GROCERY store Sunday to purchase some last minute food for Thanksgiving dinner, including cheese for pre-meal snacking. My extended family prefers to extend their stomachs before indulging in a turkey dinner with trimmings.

Because they are an adventuresome bunch, I grabbed mango and tomato basil cheeses from Henning’s Wisconsin Cheese and Eden Vale’s black peppercorn smoked Gouda and cranberry white cheddar.

My husband questioned some of my selections, but I didn’t waver except for also choosing the “Best of class 2007” Colby from Henning’s. My family is not the safe American, Velveeta, plain old cheddar type of cheese-eaters. We prefer jazzed-up cheeses.

I’m also serving St. Pete’s Select blue cheese from Faribault Dairy Company, a subsidiary of Swiss Valley Farms. My husband and I, and two of my dinner-guest brothers, love that creamy, premium blue cheese, aged in the sandstone caves of my community.

All of this cheese writing this morning reminds me of my second eldest, who is currently traveling through Wisconsin on her way to find an apartment. She just landed a job in the Appleton area.

We’ve been teasing her about living in Wisconsin and becoming a cheese connoisseur, although I don’t know why given she attended college in La Crosse.

I suggested that she carry a cheese cutter lest Wisconsin officials stop her at the border. We even discussed whether the door into her apartment will unlock via a cheese cutter rather than a key.

Oh, yes, we’re a silly bunch, aren’t we?

My family has nothing against Wisconsin; we kind of like that state and Wisconsin cheese.

But don’t expect my daughter to become a cheesehead. She’s been asked several times whether she will now become a Green Bay Packers fan. The answer is a resounding “NO!” Like me, she is not a sports person. But, if she was, I suppose she might consider switching her allegiance from the Vikings to the Packers.

I’ve heard, and my daughter has probably heard too, that the Vikings aren’t doing very well this season. Is that true? Like I said, we could care less about sports…

Maybe my daughter should have purchased one of these cheesehead hats from Cheddarheads in downtown La Crosse. They were showcased in an old bathtub painted like a Holstein when I was there in May.

© Copyright 2010 Audrey Kletscher Helbling