Monday, January 26, 2009

Ode to a Fish Fry

In Milwaukee, the most popular way to welcome the weekend is to attend a fish fry. It really is a tradition in this city, as evidenced by the cover of the most recent issue of Milwaukee Magazine.

What is a fish fry? As I understand it, fish fries started as a Lenten observance among Catholics when they abstained from meat each Friday. It has since morphed into a year round secular activity, community pastime and defining feature of Milwaukee (and most of Wisconsin). Go to any local restaurant or tavern on a Friday, and you will find fish on the menu.

Now, what to expect at a typical Milwaukee fish fry. First – no matter where you go there will be LOTS of people. It’s likely that you will have to wait in a long line surrounded by business people, students, factory workers and families with little children. The wait is fine though because everyone is in a good mood. Second – seating is often at a large table and you will probably sit with total strangers. No problem, it's part of the fun. Third – the food. There’s fish (perch, walleye, cod), potato (mashed, pancake, french fried), bread (rye, white) and coleslaw. Fourth – the entertainment is always quality (even if it’s a little hokey) and sometimes there’s dancing.

So … with all of this in mind, the following pictures are of last Friday when I went with Nora and Spencer to Lakefront Brewery for their Friday Fish Fry.

I had to wait for "my party" before being seated. This is how Nora and Spencer found me, just inside the door.

The polka band. Imagine us eating while singing the refrain "E-I-E-I-E-I-O." I'm laughing just writing about it.

There were lots of people out dancing ...
... but Nora and Spencer preferred to listen.

At last the food came, and it was very good. (I had the perch with potato pancakes.)

Done eating, Nora and I posed in front of some Cream City Brick that the building is made out of.

Good night Milwaukee! See you next Friday!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

It Might As Well Be Spring

On Tuesday, I was finishing up some school work, when I got a text message from Marilyn ...

I am going to bundle up and go for a walk by the lake.
If any of you would like to come meet me at McKinley Marina at 7

My first thought was “burrrr.”
My second thought was “I have a lot of work to do.”
My third thought was “I’m on my way!”

Some people might think it’s crazy to go for a walk on a cold, snowy night. In fact, friends of mine from Arizona and Nevada have asked me very seriously how I handle living through Wisconsin winters. I always remind them that I wear a coat when I go outside. So that’s what I did … put on a coat and a hat and mittens with gloves inside. Then I went for a walk. It was fun, even though it was VERY cold. When we passed North Point Light House and I stopped to take a picture and it took me 10 minutes for my hands to recover. Plus there was lots of ice on the sidewalk that was covered with fine snow, so there were a few spills. But all in all, it was nice to get out and get some fresh air … even though it was only 25°.

Ready to go!

My picture of North Point Light House. It was cold, and I didn't have the energy to make it look nice. Fortunately ...

... there's flickr. This is just how it looked that night except there was snow.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

MSO Mondays

The first Monday of every month is MSO Monday at Alterra (a local coffee shop). They invite a small group from the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra to perform at one of their locations around the city. I went for the first time the other night, and it was fabulous – on several levels.

First: Location
This month’s mini-concert was held at the Alterra Foundry in the Fifth Ward. The building was originally the Kramer International Foundry, but has now been converted into offices, etc. The coffee shop was designed in a post-industrial style in deference to the buildings original purpose and also to Milwaukee’s blue collar heritage. The effect is very nice.

Second: Food
I got a turkey club sandwich. The presentation was lovely, and I would have taken a picture, but I was really hungry, and it was yummy and …

Third: The Music
Lots of coffee shops have live music, but how many have a string quartet playing Rossini’s “Six Sonatas”?! I hesitate to say that it was enchanting … but it really was. People were gathered around with wide eyes and half smiles. Even two cops, who had stopped for coffee while patrolling their beat, paused to listen. When it was over, we all mingled with the musicians, asked questions and got another cup of something warm.

Fourth: Total Cost
$5 for the sandwich.

Until next month!