23 November 2015

Uniquely Milwaukee

Besides the O's that have their roots in northeastern Europe (A's are a bit odd too, where bag sounds more like beg), we have come across a few tidbits that we feel are unique to this area, dOncha know!

1. Fish Fry Friday/Friday Fish Fry: We've found that the people of Milwaukee love to eat out. Restaurants around here have a pretty great turn out most nights. But THE MOST packed night of the entire week is Friday. Almost every restaurant in town hosts a fish fry on Friday, where their entire menu revolves around fried fish. I'm not exaggerating when I say every restaurant. They advertise it on their billboards, but it seems like the locals have their favorites.

It's not local fish. Icelandic cod is what we had, I'm pretty sure. So it's not like this tradition stemmed out of an overabundance of fish.When I took my parents to Fish Fry Friday in Franklin, WI I told them that the tradition came from Lent, where Catholics abstain from eating any meat except fish. They corrected me and said that once upon a time, that was the case every Friday, not just during the period of Lent.

I am a fish snob. I grew up in Alaska, so fish rarely impresses me. I thoroughly enjoyed my fish meal at St. Martin's Inn. I asked the waitress if they shared their recipe for clam chowder. BEST I've ever HAD! It will be a difficult experience to top, but there are a million restaurants in Milwaukee that are willing to try.

2. Trick-or-Treating, NOT on Halloween Day: Sometime in October I was warned that I should check my city's website to see what day trick-or-treating would be. Uh... is this a trick question?

Nope. Apparently cities in the Milwaukee area (can't vouch for the state) decide what day kids will go around to collect candy, doors can only be knocked during a certain time frame, and kids can only knock on doors of homes with Halloween decorations and lights on.

Which means that people really go out when decorating their homes for Halloween. It's kind of a big deal.
Found this historic gem from Bayview, south of Milwaukee, 2013
3. Cheese: We've eaten a good amount of cheese here. I like cheese with flavor and Wisconsin has some good options. If I said, you could get good cheese anywhere though, I may get in trouble by Wisconsinites and Oregonians alike. So I won't say that.

The other day I was driving around town and I heard a holiday radio ad for Crystal Farms Cheese, that unfortunately is not available for me to play for you. So you'll have to bear with this script that I remember, because this ad needs to be documented.

*upbeat Christmas music in the background
Wanda: O, Tracy. I'm sO glad ya came to Cindy's Christmas party this year. But can you believe she didn't put out one cheese ball!
Tracy: O, I knOw! That's why I carry Crystal Farms Cheese around in my purse during the holidays. That way I can nibble on my favorite cheddar any time I get a hankerin'.
Wanda: You smart cookie! Break me of a little bit of that Crystal Farms cheddar.
*sounds of chewing and cheesy satisfaction
Cindy: Ladies! It looks like you found the appetizers just fine.
Tracy: Right... the appetizers. *teehee
Crystal Farms Cheese - Don't Leave Home Without It.

It was epic. And if I wasn't driving I would have a recording for you now. Sorry, folks!

4. Passing on the Right: Speaking of driving, I hope that the native drivers of Milwaukee never rent a car in any other state in the US, because they have some crazy unwritten driving rules. If a car in front of you wants to turn left, instead of politely waiting behind them until the time when they do turn, Milwaukee drivers keep driving at the same speed and pass the turning car on the right. There are very few middle-of-the-road turning lanes as you get closer to downtown Milwaukee. Even where we are in the suburbs, where there are often turning lanes, city engineers have designed right hand passing lanes on small neighborhood streets where traffic commonly stops to turn left. It also means that sometimes one lane turns into two lanes or two lanes turns into three lanes because someone thinks you might be turning and they aren't patient enough to wait and find out.

It's bizarre, and takes some getting used to. I solemnly promise to only pass on the right in this fashion while driving in Milwaukee.

5. Jewelry Refunds for the Holidays: I was just reminding Scott the other day of deals I've heard on the west coast where you buy jewelry during the holidays - if, for example, it snows on New Years Eve then you can bring your receipt in and get a full refund on all your purchases. They can offer those kind of deals in California and Oregon because they've calculated the odds and looked at the history of it snowing on that day, and feel pretty confident that they won't go bankrupt.

The other day I said to Scott, "No jewelry store would ever offer that deal in Wisconsin."

Then just last week I heard about this deal: FREE Jewelry if Green Bay Packers pass for 400 yards this Thanksgiving. 

That definitely has Wisconsin written all over it.