Good Beer

I’ll start by acknowledging that Wisconsin is getting some extra attention this week. I’m wondering how this is going to change our image? In the future, what will people around the country think of when they think of Wisconsin? Will we be known for more than cheese and beer?

Kitchy maps I’ve seen of the United State plop an archetypical wedge down in the middle of our mitten-shaped state, which simply corroborates what we put on both our license plates and our quarters.

Shifting gears here to the more personal, I’ll say that I love these kinds of maps. Maps of all kinds, really, from subway maps to treasure maps to Rand McNally. I do own a GPS for car trips, but it routinely frustrates me and I swear I’ll teach my daughter to read a map just as soon as she learns to tie her shoes.

I also love beer. I’m a good Wisconsinite in that way. I recently saw an American map of good beer. I’d say that it’s more of a treasure map than a food map. It’s not scientifically based, but instead is just representing graphically what readers of like to drink.

I also love cheese and find the “Tasters Guide to Wisconsin” far more useful, though here, too, there are omissions. The Wisconsin Cheese Tour on the Department of Tourism’s Website offers suggestions for many days worth of cheese tasting, but you’ll need your own road map. In portalwisconsin’s own “Eat @ Wisconsin” section you can broaden the menu with Mary Bergin’s culinary tour, but I know Mary wouldn’t leave out the important beer and cheese food groups.

If you, like me, enjoy a back-road car trip with your Rand McNally (or GPS) and are curious to learn more about our state’s food traditions beyond cheese and beer, I recommend seeing “Key Ingredients: America by Food” at one of the stops on the Wisconsin Tour. In Brodhead, where the exhibition will be on display May 6 – June 17, the local flavors include pickles, popcorn, and potato chips. And that’s in Green County, an area of Wisconsin that advertises itself on its Website as a place famous for “tasty brews perfectly paired with award-winning cheese.”

Speaking of travel and potatoes, I have a trip to Idaho scheduled for this summer. The Good Beer map has me more than a little concerned. Of course, Idaho equals potato to me, but there must be something to drink there, right?

by Jessica Becker, Director of Public Programs, Wisconsin Humanities Council

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