Friday, September 10, 2010
Wisconsin 101: I'm related to everyone here, or, I died and went to food heaven
When your dad's dad was one of 12 children and when many of these children and their progeny, also more numerous than the stars in the sky, moved from northern Wisconsin to the Big City of MKE, it should surprise nobody when you run into relatives you never knew existed, much less met.
Hence it was not entirely shocking news when my mother, who attended a reunion of everyone who went to her now-defunct high school in northern Wisconsin, told me she had seen my dad's cousin at the reunion. And that the cousin lived in the MKE. And that he and his wife own a bakery.
Not shocking. And indeed welcome, especially when my mom said that Greg had invited us on the Family Tour of the bakery.
Which is what my mom and I spent five hours doing yesterday.
Yes, you can spend almost that long touring a bakery, especially when you throw in a lot of family gossip. (The story about your granma's funeral and the lipstick. The canning business your great-grandfather started in N WI and sold to Libby for $25,000 in the mid 20s AND WHERE'S THE MONEY NOW, I ask you? The time my dad and his cousins dragged the calf-poop covered tailgate out to the sidewalk and my grandmother, who was wearing her new fur coat, stepped on it, slipped and fell. And cursed like a sailor, leaving, to paraphrase "A Christmas Story," a tapestry of profanity that floats above Lake Michigan to this day.)
And when your dad's cousin takes you into the store right before you and your mom are leaving (saying goodbye takes half an hour, natch, because that's how My People roll), opens the display case with the blueberry muffins, the chocolate chunk muffins, the lemon raspberry muffins, the coffeecake muffins, the chocolate cake with pecans and caramel, and the pineapple upside down cake, and says, "Take what you want," it really takes a long time to leave.
Because you are thinking, "I should put up at least a token protest. 'Oh, no! I couldn't possibly!' But then what if he shrugs and says, 'OK?' Then I lose my chance! But I don't want to be rude. What do I do? What do I do?"
So you compromise by taking just a few muffins, even though you could have cleaned out the case. But you have shame. You are no sinverguenza, not raised right. Still, it takes forever.