There's nothing like burgers, brats and beers to bring people together - at least that's what Gov. Scott Walker is hoping will hold true in Wisconsin.
Walker, who survived a recall election on Tuesday, stated in an address yesterday that "In fact next week, I'm going to invite all the members of the state legislature, Republican and Democrat alike, and what better way to bring people together than some brats and burgers, am I right?" Amid cheers, he continued, "And maybe a little good Wisconsin beer as well." As political scientist Joe Heim said, "Having brats and beer with Democrats are baby steps." It never hurt anyone to try a fresh start, though, and there are a few things Walker can certainly use to bring Wisconsinites together, even in the most divisive of times.
Walker mentioned it almost as an afterthought, but with Milwaukee serving as "the beer capital of the world," according to some proud citizens, the value of some "good Wisconsin beer" can't be underestimated. After producing brews such as Pabst and Miller, Milwaukee has at least earned the rights to call itself the beer capital of the Midwest. Any of these classics would be a hit, and the lubricant of hometown pride would certainly get the festivities off on the right foot.
If nothing else, Walker needs to do these brats right. Mess with a Badger's brat, and you're not only tampering with a Wisconsin soul food - you're insulting a way of life.
When it comes to a good Wisconsin brat, preparation is key. No pre-cooked bratwursts here - they've got to be fresh, or it's just not the same. The best route is likely a traditional Wisconsin brat fry, in which (fresh, not pre-cooked!) brats are grilled over charcoal. If there's no charcoal at the Walkers', some beer-simmered brats could serve as a good substitute. Walker better be on his A-game, though - you can bet the Democrats are going to be on the lookout for any breach of brat-prepping conduct.
There's nothing like some good old homegrown Midwestern beef to lay the foundation for a delicious summer meal, but plain old hamburgers won't do for this crowd - it's not a Wisconsin cookout without some Wisconsin cheese. From the artisan (Italian-style and Limburger) to the classics (think cheddar and Colby), Wisconsin produces it all, so Walker can afford to let his guests have the final say in cheese selection without sacrificing any of the state pride aspect.
The toppings are what make or break any brat or burger. Sour flavors should be avoided at all costs - the one thing Walker won't want to do is further purse already-sour mouths. No sauerkraut should be placed on these plates, but some sweet pickle relish might do the trick.
Spicy mustards, while always delicious, might just add fuel to the fire as well - probably better to steer clear of these as well. Plain old yellow won't do, though - Walker is looking to cut down on excess spending, but his first barbecue post-recall isn't the place to be thrifty. Splurge for some fancy mustard this time, alright, Scott?
Cheese curds to top off those brats might go over well, but it's a close call. Wisconsin-style brats plus Wisconsin cheese is definitely doubling down on hometown pride - a move which could either be seen as commendable, if played off with enough sincerity, or just pandering. It's a fine line to walk, and the governor will have to proceed with caution in order to get the most bang for his buck on this count.
Finally, it is a Midwestern classic, but the governor should steer clear of corn on the cob for his cookout next week. At such a potentially awkward event, adding in a food that's so awkward to eat will only make it that much worse.