IN THREE YEARS of exploring Wisconsin, I’ve learned a few things:
Wisconsinites are crazy about their Packers.
Wisconsinites love their brats.
Cheese is, indeed, big in Wisconsin.
And, finally, Wisconsin residents love their beer.
Not necessarily in that order.
I base this on observations such as green and gold brat buns sold at an Appleton grocery store where staff wear Packer attire on game day; liquor stores directly connected to grocery stores, walk-in beer coolers at convenience stores and an abundance of bars everywhere, seemingly packed on game day; a decrease in highway traffic during Packers games; frequent homemade roadside signs advertising brat fries; and busy specialty shops focused on selling cheese.
Now an exhibit, “Food: Who We Are and What We Eat,” at the History Museum at the Castle in downtown Appleton (that’s in eastern Wisconsin south of Green Bay) confirms my observations and conclusions about Wisconsin.
The informative and interactive exhibit—try spearing a sturgeon—explores the origins of iconic Wisconsin food traditions.
“From sauerkraut to egg rolls, each food has a story to tell about our regional values and community-making,” so notes a line in the wealth of exhibit information. I’ll admit that I didn’t read all of the info. I am more a visual and interactive learner in a museum setting. But I appreciate the depth of research summarized here.
That said, join me on this photographic tour of “Food.”
Smell the cheese.
Test your knowledge of cows.
Define Wisconsin “soul food.”
Reminisce about supper clubs and burger stands.
Identify old kitchen tools…
Celebrate the food traditions of Wisconsin:
And then afterward, grab a cold one. It seems only fitting to honor Wisconsin’s love of brats, beer, cheese and Packers. Cheers.
FYI: The “Food: Who We Are and What We Eat” exhibit continues through the fall of 2014 at the Castle. There’s much more to see here, including exhibits on local history and a permanent Harry Houdini exhibit. Houdini claims Appleton as his hometown.
The castle itself is a lovely complex built in 1923 as a Masonic temple and today is on the National Register of Historic Places. Click here to learn more about the History Museum at the Castle.
© Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling