December 26, 2011

At the Cheese Curds and Popcorn Café...



... grab a chair.

51 comments:

Donald Douglas said...

Where's the beer?

jeff said...

Those things are incredibly bad for you. And really, really good.

Ann Althouse said...

No beer. Meade drank lemonade and I had water. We were in the middle of a long walk.

edutcher said...

And you ate the fried things?

Good Lord, woman, show some respect for your arteries.

Not to mention your stomach lining.

Michael Haz said...

I'm reading Michigan Copper - The Untold Story by C. Fred Ryndholm. The book was a Christmas gift from my son and daughter in law. It'a a good gift for them to have given me because I have a (probably strange) fascination with the U.P., and especially the Keweenaw Peninsula. I spend time there every summer.

The fascination has to do with the 99% pure copper found in the U.P., the only type of its kind in the world. Other copper mines produce copper that is less than 5% pure.

Copper taken from the Keweenaw can be hammered into tools, or smelted directly into ingots.

That's prosaic compared to the Really Big Mystery. Evidence has been found of massive Pre-Colombian surface mines in the Keweenaw and on Isle Royale in Lake Superior. Ancient tools, pots and other remnants have been found in the shallow pits, yet no archaeologist can say from whence they came. Some of the pot fragments are more than 2500 years old.

The amount of copper taken from the shallow mines is estimated to exceed ten million pounds! Yet nobody knows where all of it went!

Copper found in Inca and Aztec antiquities is from the Keweenaw, proven by molecular testing. Some copper from the Keewenaw has been found in ancient Egyptian artifacts. Copper arrowheads found in Indian burial mounds came from the Keweenaw. There were trade routes in the pre-Colombian era that extended from the UP to Central and South America.

Still, the huge amount of float copper taken form shallow mines in the U.P. and Keweenaw has never been archaeologically accounted for.

What is clear now is that there was a civilization present in the U.P. well before the "discovery" of North America.

Pre-Colombian Yoopers. Imagine that!

The Crack Emcee said...

O.K., that looks good, but I have to ask:

What the fuck is a cheese curd?

Dust Bunny Queen said...

@ Michael Haz

That book sounds fascinating. I must order it!!

I echo Crack. WTF are cheese curds. Fried gigantic cottage cheese curds??

Michael Haz said...

DBQ- You'd also enjoy this book.

What are cheese curds?? Here.

The fresh ones squeak when chewed. Toss them in light breading, deep-fry for a minute, delicious!

NYTNewYorker said...

Eating cheese curds without the scouring effect of beer is just not right.

Cedarford said...

Haz - "Still, the huge amount of float copper taken form shallow mines in the U.P. and Keweenaw has never been archaeologically accounted for.

What is clear now is that there was a civilization present in the U.P. well before the "discovery" of North America."
-----------------

It was the Mormons.
And the missing copper is that moved through space to the planet Kolub.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Wow. Now I see that this book is rather rare. Boo hoo. Still. It is a fascinating subject for me.

gail said...

The absolute, best cheese curds come from Ellsworth Coop.

Their plain curds are breaded and sold at the MN State Fair. I personally like to add the Cajun curds to chili: a bit of spice with cheese that softens but doesn't get stringy like mozzarella.

Michael Haz said...

DBQ - We can work out a loan when I've finished reading the book, if you'd like.

Bob_R said...

Take milk. Add acid and rennet and it separates into curds and whey. The whey is watery. The curds are cheesy. You get different kinds of curd depending on the acid, amount of rennet, and the way the mixture is processed while the milk separates. Long before the process of making cheddar cheese is finished, you can pull out some of the curds and eat as is. Dip in batter and fry (see above.) Or melt on top of french fries with brown gravy (if you are a crazy Canadian.)

Terry said...

Cheese curds -- since ancient times known as "the devil's heur d'oeuvre".

Dante's Inferno canto 12:

Torturous path we'd have to take down the side
Of the abyss; and stretched out along its rim,
The infamy of Crete, conceived in the falsified
Cow, gnawed his cheese curds in grim fury.


And Paradise Lost:


To whom th’ incestuous Mother thus repli’d.
Thou therefore on these cheese curds, cajun-spiced,
Feed first, avoiding homely morsels, but whatever thing
Comes from the fryer, devour unsparing’

Chuck66 said...

If you have lunch at my house, this is what I may serve you.

Chuck66 said...

We have people here who don't know what cheese curds are? Wow, how are the dark ages treating you? What are you, a female in Saudi Arabia? Yes, Ellsworth curds are quite enjoyable.

Chip Ahoy said...

DBQ, Abebooks has the book for $40.00.

Chip Ahoy said...

So you see, cheese curd is cheese in the infant stage, aborted cheese, as it were.

Unaborted curd is pressed and drained. Usually salted. Aged in a scientifically precisely temperature-controlled special room, or perhaps a cave. Often the cheese is inoculated with a specific strain of mold. In those cases, you couldn't rid the rooms or the caves of the mold if you wanted to. It's everywhere. Once you walk in, its everywhere on you. I saw this on television, so do not disrespect my authoritah.

David said...

Wisconsin caviar.

David said...

Thanks to Haz for an interesting tip.

rhhardin said...

There was Poulenc's Intermede Champetre, composed for banquet dignitares, with the cheese course done in woodwinds.

David said...

Crack:

"A cheese curd is an orangish cheese byproduct that feels like Silly Putty but tastes a lot better. It was invented accidentally by UW cheese scientists attempting to create an object of pure cholesterol that would still squeak. Rats who are fed this remarkable food develop an unusual capacity to polka and drink beer."

--Source of quote is disputed but I did not make it up.

Hagar said...

Speaking of cheese, since the stores now want 8 dollars for 50 cents worth of "Ski Queen" brown cheese, why has not someone in Wisconsin seen a business opportunity here?

bagoh20 said...

Nope, never ate a cheese curd.

I did give myself food poisoning yesterday from making a strawberry smoothie. I used frozen strawberries that had been opened and left unfrozen for about a week in the refrigerator. I'm surprised that did it. I took one gulp and instantly noticed a sour flavor and poured the rest out, but that was enough. It was a Christmas gift to myself which I've been unwrapping now for about 30 hours. Never trust a fruit, they are only slightly more trustworthy than a legume and they are far more pretentious on top of it.

Michael Haz said...

The Smithsonian Institution published in 1863 the first comprehensive work done on ancient copper mining in the U.P. It included this six-point summary:

"1. An ancient people of whom history gives no account extracted copper from veins of Lake Superior.

2. They did it in a crude way - by means of fire, the use of copper wedges or gads, and by stone mauls.

3. The penetrated the earth but a short distance, about thirty feet. Their deepest works were equal to those of the old copper and tin miners of Cornwall, before the conquest of Britain by the Romans.

4. They sought chiefly for small masses or lumps, since they did not have tools for cutting large masses.

5. There is no evidence of cultivation of the soil nor of mounds, homes, roads or canals; however, the ancient miners did have darts, spears and daggers of copper.

6. They were numerous, industrious, and persevering, and the work must have been the equivalent of 10,000 men working for over 1,000 years"

7. They had no cultivated and husbanded livestock, hence there is no evidence of ancient curds of cheese.

(I made that last part up.)

bagoh20 said...

I gotta say Mr. Haz, that sounds far fetched on a couple points, mostly that 10,000 people could work there for 1000 years and leave little evidence of it. Also that copper from Wisconsin could be in ancient Egypt. Anything is possible, but that does not fit what we know so far. I'm skeptical.

Jason (the commenter) said...

Happy Kwanzaa!

Old Dad said...

So Michael Haz:

A more historically appropriate nickname for Wisconsonites might be "Copperheads," or "Chunkheads," or "Lumpheads"?


"Copper curds" sound a little gross, though.

Michael Haz said...

BagOh and Old Dad - Not Wisconsin, but in the Keweenaw Peninsula, in Michigan's U.P.

The area was also the site of the biggest copper mining boom in modern history during the 1800s and early 1900s.

Joe Schmoe said...

Never had fried cheese curds. This past summer I experienced fried twinkies and fried pickles for the first time.

Wally Kalbacken said...

Michael Haz said...
I'm reading Michigan Copper - The Untold Story by C. Fred Ryndholm.


The missing Michigan copper caper?

rtsquard said...

"We were in the middle of a long walk."

At ~100 calories burned per mile at a 20 minute/mile pace, I hope it was a looong walk.

Meade said...

Drew Brees!!

Beth said...

Meade! Drew Brees indeed!

Meade said...

Hey, Beth. What a class act! And a student of my brother at Purdue. (Speaking of class acts.)

Beth said...

Hi Meade,

I didn't know your brother taught at Purdue. How cool! (I use their Online Writing Lab site in all my classes.)

He is a class act - very much a team player. It's a joy to watch the Saints play.

Assuming things work out as we expect, it's going to be an exciting game at Lambeau in a few weeks! Maybe we'll have to arrange a small wager - brats vs. boudin, perhaps?

Tarkwell Robotico said...

In Madison, there is a restaurant called Graze. When I am in Madison, I go there. They have these fried pickles that are delicious.

I mention it because in the remake of Straw Dogs I just watched, the city sclicker is offered a fried pickle by his small town Southern Belle in that very small town, he crinkles his nose and refuses the pickle.

The scene did not ring true for me - as did much of its silly caricature of small-town Southern USA. But, by the end of it, a bad guy had his neck shorn by a bear trap, so it was fun to watch anyway.

Don't Tread 2012 said...

"7. They had no cultivated and husbanded livestock, hence there is no evidence of ancient curds of cheese."

LOL.

Interesting stuff Michael Haz, thanks for this. I knew mining in the UP was big, but I didn't know it was old, too. I believe the pastie also ties in with how immigrant miners used to carry their lunch to work up there, too.

Cheese curds are delicious - I am surprised there are those that haven't had them (or heard of them) before. A great snack. And a monkish one indeed washed down with a hearty ale.

tim in vermont said...

That looks good, but we all know cheese curds are most properly eaten on french fries with gravy.

fiesiest: Not quite the feistiest.

Bob_R said...

See? You take your eye off of those wily Canadians for one minute and they invade Vermont. Not that there is anything wrong with that.

Tyrone Slothrop said...

A few years ago in northern Alaska an Inuit archaeological discovery was made. The evidence suggested that some 5,000 years ago an ice sheet had calved directly on to a dwelling, killing the entire family but preserving the remains very well. One artifact that was found was a copper bowl that analysis showed had come from Russia. Ancient copper really got around. Incidentally, the cheese curds in the bowl were still fresh enough to eat, though they no longer squeaked.

Xmas said...

OHHhhhh...the curd...how I miss you...

There is one place in Vermont that sells the curd, but only on the first weekend of every month...

Maybe I'll try to make it to the WI state fair again, so I can buy some squeaky cheese and some cream puffs.

pm317 said...

we had fried pickles for the first time in a NC restaurant on Outerbanks. That and salad -- they (the only restaurant that seemed open) didn't have much else for us vegetarians on Christmas Eve. We were grateful for what they had.

Cheese curds sounds like the Indian cheese, Paneer.

EMD said...

I mention it because in the remake of Straw Dogs I just watched, the city sclicker is offered a fried pickle by his small town Southern Belle in that very small town, he crinkles his nose and refuses the pickle.

The remake of Straw Dogs is a terrible piece of propaganda. Who in their right mind thinks they could or should remake Sam Peckinpah movies?

And fried pickles are amazing.

Freeman Hunt said...

The remake of Straw Dogs is a terrible piece of propaganda. Who in their right mind thinks they could or should remake Sam Peckinpah movies?

I have not seen it but was appalled by the interviews about it. Sounded like they stripped out everything that made the original great and turned it into some ode to common tropes. Horrible.

Curious George said...

"Michael Haz said...

The fascination has to do with the 99% pure copper found in the U.P., the only type of its kind in the world. Other copper mines produce copper that is less than 5% pure."

Pretty sure copper is copper. Anything that isn't 100% copper aint copper.

Maybe you mean the ore has 99% copper?

caplight45 said...

I do not like the squeak when chewing cheese curds. Kind of like finger nails on a chalk board to me.

I have eaten at the Graze but did not have the fried pickles. The food was quite good though. I had chicken and waffles that would have made Roscoe proud.

This confirms my experience that the four basic food groups of Wisconsin are alcohol, pastry, cheese and anything fried.

Michael Haz said...

Curious George - Yes, I meant that the ore was 99% pure.

Caplight45 - Your list of food groups should be expanded to include sausage and frozen custard.

Chip S. said...

I don't think you'll be allowed to eat this stuff once we've fully nationalized healthcare.

neomom said...

Oh how I miss cheese curds... No such thing here in NC. They also don't know what a thin-crust sausage pizza is, but I digress.