Under these endless snowstorms, it’s hard to imagine something green will soon be heading our way. It’s also hard to believe that, with this Spring issue, we’ll have published a magazine for every season. In December last year, we set goals for ourselves. The final two were: 1) to highlight the unique cultural makeup of the city and pay homage to each group’s contributions to Milwaukee’s foodscape; and 2) to honor Milwaukee’s historical food traditions, whether they were in the past or are being revitalized by new producers today. We realize more and more that food is the glue that bonds us, as families and community, because it’s always the easiest way to start a conversation.
I think Milwaukee gets it. We recognize that where we came from shapes where we are headed.
The Edible Milwaukee team spent the winter bundled up against the cold, but every place we went emanated warmth and welcome. At the Urban Ecology Center in Washington Park, we ate pie that kids made using fruit gleaned from neighborhood trees. We basked in the steam coming off giant bowls of ramen, the latest culinary trend to hit our city. Stamping off our feet and shivering, we’d walk past the brightly-lit neon signs into Ono Kine Grindz, where the myriad Hawaiian flavors transported us out from under the Polar Vortex directly to the Big Island. Into their Bay View commissary kitchen we were welcomed by the Gouda Girls, whose motto, “Because Nice Matters” couldn’t describe more perfectly their attitude toward life. Sweetly and entirely Midwestern. Newly arrived to the city are others who’ve decided that Milwaukee is home, including a couple starting a restaurant, Amilinda, named in honor of the chef’s parents, whose lessons he took in around the kitchen table in Venezuela.
Milwaukee is a city of immigrants, old and new, and the face of our city is changing rapidly. If we look closely, we can still see the marks of generations before us, fading against the side of old buildings. Old-world traditions live on through family recipes in the Greek, Polish, and Armenian communities that have put down roots and flourished here. It comes out during Easter, when paczki, braided breads, and snowy white cookies signify a time of rebirth and life’s progression. Alongside the old, we see the more recent, in the form of Milwaukeean newly settled, and in the revitalization of neighborhoods by restaurants and other food businesses.
I think Milwaukee gets it. We recognize that where we came from shapes where we are headed. Looking back at our own histories, we build on lessons to move forward — like the seasons, cold or warm.
Yours in local food,