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Odd Wisconsin Archive

Forgotten Flavors of Wisconsin

With the new edition of the classic Flavor of Wisconsin: An Informal History of Food and Eating in the Badger State reaching bookstores this month, we wondered if author Therese Allen considered including any of the justly forgotten recipes described here over the last few years.

For example, there was Thomas Anderson's muskrat pie, whose aroma made everyone at his fur trade post "glad to rush to the door for fresh air." And in 1820, future governor James Doty left detailed directions for a stew based on rabbit entrails, according to the methods of his Ojibwe hosts.

Then there were the "rattlesnake eggs" eagerly devoured by fur traders for breakfast (actually more likely to have been eggs of a different snake species) and hearty lumberjack beans, whose preparation gave new meaning to the term, "earthenware."

For holidays, Allen might have taken some tips from the Christmas dinner served in Green Bay in 1836, which consisted mostly of venison, bear and sturgeon.

Although we suspect Flavor of Wisconsin doesn't contain medicinal formulas, surely no Wisconsin home would want to be without its infusion of roasted toads for treating smallpox nor its jar of skunk grease to be inhaled during bouts of cold and congestion.

Regardless of our ailments or degree of epicurean sophistication, all of us would do well this spring to recall the ceremonial blessings that our predecessors in this part of the world always conferred on the first harvest.

Best wishes, and bon appetit!

:: Posted in Curiosities on April 19, 2009

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