What do you know about Wisconsin anyway?

November 19th, 2014

Today the New York Times posted an online interactive recipe book of sorts showcasing a different Thanksgiving dish that represents each of the fifty states (plus Washington DC and Puerto Rico.) The recipe they came up with for Wisconsin is Wild Rice with Mushrooms. Hunh? No offense to wild rice, but aren't we the cranberry capital of the world? And don't cranberries come to mind around Thanksgiving time a lot more often than rice? I would think Minnesota has the corner on the wild rice market. That and grape salad according to the Times. (Here's where I give an empathetic nod to our western neighbors who are likely as baffled as we are. Do grapes grow in snow?)

I'm not trying to misalign the New York Times. In fact, my Sunday would not be complete without them. But their representation of Wisconsin is far from our truth. I find this happens a lot to our beautiful and misunderstood state. Unless you've lived here, Wisconsin may exist in your head as an amalgamation of beer and cheese, Twin Peaks and the Packers. I'm not denying those things shape our fair state (and our hips, for that matter), but we are certainly much more than stale stereotypes. 

Everyone I know who has ever lived here has cultivated a fierce and protective loyalty to Wisconsin. A soft spot exists for the friendly people, the beautiful and surprising scenery – much of it still untouched by development, the laid-back but smart way we conduct business, our cheerful acceptance of the short summer and long winter and, OK fine, the cheese curds and craft beer.

But not the wild rice.