After a long drive along a bunch of interstates (and a few blue highways), I’m in Stoughton, Wisconsin, a town of about 12,000 on the Yahara River about 30 miles south of Madison. Stoughton was founded in 1847 and claims to be “the birthplace of the coffee break, community television, and the world famous Stoughton Norwegian Dancers.” I’ve also learned that Stoughton is known for its Norwegian heritage, and it hosts a big celebration every year on May 17 for Syttende Mai, the Norwegian constitution day.
Like much of Wisconsin, Stoughton is the land of brats and dairy–at least based on a sampling of the shelves of the local “Pick ‘N Save” grocery. It is also the land of very friendly people. The difference between here and the east coast is palpable with every single interaction. From the cashier at the grocery story to the clerk at the hotel, people are amazingly warm. Stoughton is also patriotic; Main Street is already decked out with flags in preparation for the 4th of July.
And while I’m thinking about it, what kind of kid sits on a tuffet and chows down on curds and whey? And what exactly IS a tuffet? In my opinion, nursery rhymes should have to be believable, like Hickory Dickory Dock–which was based on a true story.
Anyway, back to food. Wikipedia defines curds as “a dairy product obtained by coagulating milk.” Sounds delicious, doesn’t it? That said, I actually thought curds were pretty good, like a young cheese with a bit of a sour flavor, and the brats and local salamis were also quite nice. There’s also a good local beer from the New Glarus Brewing Company which is sold exclusively in Wisconsin (in fact, it’s actually illegal to sell New Glarus products outside of Wisconsin, as a bar in Maple Grove, Minnesota learned recently).
I haven’t had the chance yet to sample the community television or the Norwegian dance, but it’s clear that there is great local food and drink. It’s fair to say that I would whey about 100 pounds more if I lived in Wisconsin (did I spell all of that right?).
Tomorrow it’s off to Minnesota. I’ll take a coffee break before I hit the road, of course.