Eating Local while Traveling

A couple weeks ago, I took a trip to Wisconsin for a funeral. Because cookies always bring comfort, I brought the aforementioned Cowboy Cookies to share at the family get-togethers while up there. The real food news, however, wasn't what I cooked, but the food I found while up there. I mentioned odd foods I've seen while visiting there before- this time, there were odd foods, but I noticed the local foods all over the place!

The traditional lunch place for Wisconsin visits for our family is a locally-owned restaurant (truck stop, really) called Hobo's. Hobo's serves a special cultural food seasonally, and the whole area looks forward to its arrival- a sausge called mustripen. This is a really local food- when you Google it, all the results are about the small town of Belgium, Wisconsin and the surrounding area, which is where Hobo's is. The current residents of the area (my husband's family included) are descendants of immigrants from Luxembourg, the apparent source of this sausage. This 'mustripen' (or 'Musz-Treipen' or 'Mousträipen', all pronounced "moose-try-pen") is a sausage made with blood and cabbage. It's a good thing I looked at the recipe AFTER trying a bite of the stuff- I'm not sure I would have tried some had I known how it was made. I'll be honest though- it wasn't bad. It was much softer than the typical sausage (probably due to the cabbage), and much more moist (probably due to the blood- but I don't want to think about that.) but had a good flavor. Other sites call similar dishes "black pudding- and that's about right. It had the consistency of pudding. Recently, one of teh older men who makes this ethnic delicacy died when his car fell through the ice of a frozen lake. He planned to share his recipe with friends just days after his death. Hopefully the (messy?) art of making this food won't be lost in a generation.

From Wisconsin May 07
More local food! It didn't end with the cabbage blood sausage! We were in Wisconsin after all... what more local to Wisconsin than cheese? Places to get local dairy products were all over, but we chose to stop and shop at the Mars Cheese Castle. I couldn't resist. The name was just too good. Anyway, we got inside, and I was amazed, not only at the large variety of types and shapes of cheese, but at all the other products. Everything in the place was local- the cheese, the sausage, the crackers, the soup & bread mixes, the baked goods, the wines, the syrups, the spices- everything was made in and around the area. When we stopped at our traditional meal-on-the-road place, Apple Holler, the same was true.

I wonder where local food places like this are in Indiana, besides farmer's markets? I wonder if they exist? I doubt they have names as outrageous as these :)


ashley@twentysixcats said...

Mmmm I think I'd be in Heaven with all that cheeeeese.....

Do they have pasty's in Wisconsin? I read it in a book once and heard a rumor that they actually exist.

Joanna said...

I'll admit, I didn't know what a pasty was. I Googled it, and, yes, the do exist, and yes, they are in Wisconsin, among other places. They are originally from the UK, so they aren't in the region of Wisconsin we visit, which is mostly a German/Luxembourger area. They seem to be more prevalent in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and northern Wisconsin (near where we honeymooned!)

And, yes, there was a lot of cheese.