When I moved away from Wisconsin a bit under a year ago, I was excited. How could I not be? When I started applying to graduate schools, one of the top priorities was applying to programs in locations where I'd like to live for a long, long time. Places like Seattle, with vibrant food communities and outstanding cultural opportunities. Or Boulder, with its amazing community feel. And Chapel Hill, where I can indulge my love of basketball (honestly earned by growing up in Indiana, the home of March Madness). I said goodbye to the white bread Midwestern states, full of corn and flat as far as the eye can see. And then... And then.
Something strange happened. I got to Chapel Hill, and it was too hot. I stopped at the farmer's market and was disconcerted by the lack of the shout "Hot spicy cheese bread!" that I made fun of so much when I went to the Madison Farmer's Market. There was a distinct lack of cheese brats, beer brats, and bad beer. There was a distinct lack of cheese. And when the professional football season started, things went even further downhill. I guess I can't blame North Carolinians, because if my team was that sad, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't care very much about the NFL. But you know what I missed? The green jerseys, worn the day before and day of every Packer game during the whole season. How the guys on the floor would congregate in the quietest part of the plant so that they could pay as much attention as possible to the game. The endless recaps during the day after, as everyone rehashed how awesome the Packers were or noted every minute mistake that was made. And through it all, the incredible loyalty. This is their team.
You could see it on Sunday. Many times, even if a team makes it to the Super Bowl, their fans aren't travellers. They won't fly halfway across the country to see their team play. The Super Bowl tends to be rather lacking in crowd noise, populated as it is by some of the see-and-be-seen crowd. Luckily, we struck gold in Sunday's matchup - Steeler fans and Packer fans are not fair-weather. They will go to the ends of the earth to watch their team play. There were cheese heads and terrible towels galore. I watched from home, with a few friends. We drank quite a bit of Wisconsin beer, and there were a few times where our yelling scared the living daylights out of Annabelle. To be fair, our shindig was maybe a bit more highbrow than many that occurred in Wisconsin - beer bread was made with a microbrew and some whole wheat flour, french onion dip was from scratch (and vegetables were dipped in it - the horror!), and I'm pretty sure no good Packer fan would make something like a pork and fruit ragout to eat while watching their team play. Brownies weren't from a box. But I think it's a compromise. And it led me to a realization - Wisconsin is a pretty damned good state.
There's probably only one thing left to say - Congrats Packers, and go Pack go!
Oh, oh right. And the bread pudding. Well, we're not really bread pudding fans over here, so I just made one little ramekin of it using a stale whole wheat baguette and some whiskey (it was in a plastic bottle. yep, J's a klassy guy.). If nothing else, it smelled darned amazing in the oven. Then again, vanilla + whiskey = never a bad idea. Only good things come from that combo.
Last Week: Great Grains Muffins
Next Week: Chocolate Oatmeal Drops (basically, brownie cookies you can pretend are healthy because look! There's oats in there!)