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Both Sides of the Fence

A Tosa resident since 1991, Christine walks the dog, cooks but avoids housework, writes and reads, and enjoys the company of friends and strangers. Her job takes her around the state, learning about people's health. A Quaker (no, they don't wear blue hats or sell oatmeal or motor oil), she has been known to stand on both sides of the political and philosophic fence at the same time, which is very uncomfortable when you think about it. She writes about pretty much whatever stops in to visit her busy mind at the moment. One reader described her as "incredibly opinionated but not judgmental." That sounds like a good thing to strive for!

Brat rules

Wauwatosa, Sendiks, bratwurst

That's "braht," as in bratwurst.

This is bratwurst weekend in Wisconsin, with the world's "largest brat fesival" underway in Madison as of this Friday morning and lasting through Monday.

I'm not sure why Wauwatosa doesn't have a brat festival. After all, the Madison Johnsonville Brat Festival is the brain child of Tosa Metcalfe Sentry owner Tim Metcalfe. And the city is full of competitive, master class grillers like blogger Tom Gaertner. (Where do you think he gets those Gas Pains?)

To tell the truth, I'm more of an Italian sausage connoisseur than a brat maven. I grew up mooching at the table of one of the Sendik's Balestreri families, eating superlative links cooked to perfection by Ted and Steve on an old-fashioned brick backyard grill. But it's been years since I've had a really good Italian sausage, alas.

There seem to be all sorts of rules for brat perfection. Son Geo is a boil-in-beer-and-onions kind of guy, while Liz is a just-give-me-the-bun-and-skip-the-meat sort.

Like Liz, I'm a carbohydrate fancier. So my only brat rule has to do with the bun. It needs to be substantial and crusty. Right now, Sendik's water rolls or Sciortino's long rolls, seeds preferred, do the job. If all I can get is the mushy 8-bun-bag-buns (why 8 buns when sausages are packaged by 5s, I wonder?), I commit brat heresy with a nicely warmed tortilla.

This Monday, brother-in-law Larry will do the grilling honors in Oshkosh. He's a no parboil guy. I might sneak up a few Usinger's grayish parboiled brats for my sister and nephew, who love them. It's one of those love what you grew up with things.

What are your brat rules and secrets? Are you a parboil or never-boil person? Mustard or catsup? Onions and sauerkraut? Favorite brands?

Oh, and good Memorial Day to you. May you take some time for reflection as well as an extra napkin or two.

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