For those of you who don't know, I grew up in a very itty bitty town in Wisconsin. And when I say “itty bitty,” I mean like a thousand people. And when I say Wisconsin, I mean that beer-swilling, cheese chompin' state directly to the north of Illinois that Buck appropriately called “lopsided.”
And I grew up there. And it was funny.
Why was it funny, you ask? I will tell you why, says me.
First of all, as you know, Wisconsinites like their cheese. But you may not realize how much they really do like it. When I was growing up, there was a plate of sliced cheese served at every meal. And I mean EVERY MEAL. And to keep up with supply and demand, there was the weekly trip to the cheese factory.
I LOVED going to the cheese factory with my Dad every Saturday morning. Well, maybe I didn’t love going there as much as what we got there. Of course, there was the usual purchase of aged American cheese (my Dad’s favorite). And then my Dad often bought cheese curds. For those of you who don’t know, let me first tell you what cheese curds are not. They are NOT cottage cheese, nor anything like cottage cheese. They are essentially little pieces of cheddar cheese in a curd like shape (see pic below), with a distinctive taste. They are yummy! And the best time to get them is when they are fresh from the factory, and they actually make a little squeaky noise when you chew them. I’m not kidding. Fresh, squeaky cheese curds are the best!
But even better than fresh cheese curds is fresh string cheese. That crap they sell in the stores under the labels of “Mootown Snackers” or the like does NOT compare to the delectable taste of fresh-from-the-factory string cheese. On the way to the cheese factory each week, my sister and I used to beg my Dad to buy us some string cheese. Sometimes he’d buy it for us (I guess all the whining sometimes got to him), but most of the time he’d refuse, because he couldn’t stand the way we’d peel layer by layer of the string cheese off and play with it, eating it very slowly. My Dad does not like finger food, and he especially didn’t like us kids playing with our food. But whenever he did agree to buy us string cheese, I was so happy! Even nowadays, when we go visit my parents, I raid the fridge and usually find fresh string cheese there. They told me they buy it especially for me when I come visit…aww, isn’t that sweet?
Wisconsinites’ passionate love for cheese was definitely one of the funniest parts of growing up ‘Scansin.