The Wonders of Dairyland

Did you know that cheese curds squeak? It’s true.

Of course, six weeks ago, I didn’t even know what a cheese curd was. If all of you not versed in the wonders of cheese, curds are the hours-old product of the cheese-making process. Keep the curds longer and you get aged cheddar. They’re salty, cheesy and when you bite into a newborn curd, it squeaks. The New York Times says it sounds like “balloons trying to neck.”

The other two gastronomic delights this area is known for are beer and bratwurst (aka “brats”). As a non-drinking vegetarian, I’ll have to leave it to Mark to report on that for you. What I can tell you about is the Farmers’ Markets here. Madison is crazy about them. There’s at least one a day… and THREE on Saturday. The largest one is on Capital Square and in the middle of summer up to 20,000 people visit! Needless to say, we haven’t braved it yet. But we’ve been to several others, always coming home with several tote bags brimming with fresh veg. We scored 24 pounds of organic tomatoes on Saturday, so we’ll be canning this weekend.

Madisonians love being in the great outdoors. In a city located between two lakes, outdoor activities abound. One favorite pastime is biking, and the city is crisscrossed with dozens of fabulous bike paths, one of which is about 40 yards behind our apartment. I’ve found that I can bike to the University in 16 minutes. It takes 30 minutes on the bus. So there! In the winter, some weirdos even bike across the lake for their commute… apparently there’s a company in Norway that makes steel-studded bike tires. A salesperson at the bike shop offered to get me an order form if I was interested. I think I’ll take the bus, thank you.

This brings us to the question I’ve been asking most: what about the winter? From all the people I’ve talked to about this subject, I have learned that the best way to face winter is to embrace it. Activities like snowshoeing, ice sailing, cross country skiing, ice fishing and heavy drinking have all been suggested to me. I think I’ll try snowshoeing.

I haven’t found a definitive answer on what constitutes weather bad enough to close local schools (shockingly, there’s very little mention of it on the Madison School District website), but the consensus is that if the wind chill is below -30 degrees when the kids are out waiting for the bus, they’ll call it. Um, -30 degrees? Are you kidding? I come from Baltimore, where we cancel school if there’s a CHANCE of snow the next day. And I’m okay with that. I just think it’s funny that people I’ve spoken to try to console me by saying, “don’t worry – it’ll only stay below 0° for a few weeks.” Or my other favorite, “the snow’s not too bad in the winters here – sometimes it’s too cold to snow!”

But while the weather’s still warm and the trees still have their leaves, I’ll enjoy these last few temperate days of summer here in Dairyland.

One response to “The Wonders of Dairyland

  1. Hello, It is Thanksgiving time again and I am remembering the days of the Carter/Fisher/Brown gatherings. What a time we all had.Sounds as if you two have settled in and good for you for just going along with the inevitable! I love the cold and snow. Several weeks ago the NY times had a wonder piece on a bakery in Madison,”Cress Bakery’? Look them up the bread they make sounds yummy and is apparently gluten free. Happy Turkey time to you

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