Today I’m going to be writing about one of my greatest passions and that’s the cuisine of the US state of Wisconsin. There are several delicious entries which sadly didn’t make the cut and still so many more that I have yet to try, but here are my current power rankings for the delicacies that I have had thus far!
I was attending a wedding reception at a bar in Denmark, WI in the summer of 2014, when my roommate’s mom told me I ought to try a Kneecap, saying that not only was it a Wisconsin dessert, but one specific to the northeast region of the state. My love of cultural assimilation brought the pastry to my lips. It’s basically a fried donut with a depression in the center that’s filled with whipped cream. It’s also covered with powdered sugar. I’ve got a sweet tooth so it definitely suits me. It’s interesting that I’ve tried this, and yet I still haven’t tried Wisconsin’s most famous dessert- the Kringle. But it’s on my bucket list!
#4 Deep-Fried Cheese Curds
Most Wisconsinites will tell you that the best and purest way to eat cheese curds is when they are “squeaky” to the bite. This is caused by the elastic protein strands in the curd rubbing against the enamel of your teeth, and so the optimal time to eat them is at room temperature when they are fresh. As much as I do love them, I think I prefer them deep-fried and battered. I had them once at Curly’s Pub- a restaurant that used to be found in the atrium of Lambeau Field (or, as I call it, The Sistine Chapel of the West). They’re great as an appetizer and perhaps best paired with a cup of ketchup.
We really are getting local now. Booyah is a stew that’s made with vegetables and the bones of meat (chicken, beef, pork or ox tail) and it’s specific to the Bay Area of Northeastern Wisconsin. It’s a staple of things like church picnics and is usually only made for such social events, since it’s cooked for 2 days in a cast iron kettle with a wood-burning fire and serves a whole army of people. I had it at a high school graduation party in a small town near Green Bay in 2015. The smell of Booyah is amazing. The whole yard was thick with the scent of chicken broth, and it was tasty but super-hot. I actually burnt my tongue eating it. My roommate’s grandfather took it upon himself to tell me the history of this mysterious dish, which cannot be found outside of the Badger State’s borders. He told me that the stew is Belgian in origin, and I have since confirmed this online, with articles telling me that the name “booyah” is a Flemish or Walloon Belgian spelling of the French word “bouillon”, which translates to “broth”.
This really is a great example of the German influence on the state. The immigrants of the 19th century brought the recipes of their homeland with them, and Wisconsin is one of- perhaps even the best- places to go in the USA for sausage. Summer Sausage, Kielbasa and Venison Sausage are extremely popular, but perhaps none is more quintessentially Wisconsinite than the Bratwurst. In the rest of the USA the hot dog reigns supreme at summer cookouts, but in Wisco they prefer Brats. Wisconsin is actually the nation’s largest producer and consumer of this sausage. I’ve had it dozens of times during my time living there, and there are so many variations. I spent July 4th in Wisconsin in 2014 and 2015 and on both occasions we grilled Brats. We chose these beer-battered Brats with chunks of cheddar inside. I miss them…
#1 Fried Fish
Remember, this is a subjective power ranking, and it’s based on which delicacies I tried and which I liked best. And undoubtedly the most pleasing entry to my taste buds is the fried river fish I ate in 2015 whilst spending some time at my roommate’s cabin in the Northwoods. We had a blast catching some trout at this trout hatchery an hour’s drive away, and we took our catches back to the cabin where my roommate’s dad deep-fried them. I have a picture of our fried trout from that day which you can see above! It’s not only my favorite Wisconsinite meal but it also stands as the best fish I have ever eaten.
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