Thursday, August 30, 2012

Vacation Day 4

Whew! The lead-up to and start of the new school year has left me with no time to write the last post about our trip to Madison until now.

Friday night we went to the local minor league baseball stadium, Warner Park, where the Madison Mallards play. Amateur teams from around Madison had sent 1-2 players each for the Home Town All-Star Game. We struck up a conversation with the elderly gentleman in front of us, grandfather to one of the second basemen, so we rooted for his team. It was a decent ballgame that only got ridiculous in one of the middle innings, when the pitcher couldn't find the catcher's glove, much less the strike zone. I think he loaded the bases and let two runs score on wild pitches. All told, there was one homerun and a couple of errors. The game was tied into the bottom of the ninth, when someone hit a walk-off double. Even though we had no emotional stake in the outcome, the night was nice, and we enjoyed this little slice of Americana. I remember that the woman who sang the anthem had a beautiful voice.

Of course we had to sample the ballpark fare. Dear Husband paid a major-league price for a minor-league hot dog, soda, and fresh fruit cup (!). I opted for a veggie burger. I look so thrilled in the photo because of the thick layer of (iceberg) lettuce I got to add, in addition to the usual ketchup, mustard, relish, and onions.

Saturday morning was all about the condiments--or rather, a particular condiment: mustard. August 4 was the 21st Annual National Mustard Day. What? Weren't you celebrating?

First we met up for brunch with a historian of science friend of mine, then we all trooped over to the National Mustard Museum. This private collecting project has been Barry Levenson's hobby since the Red Sox disappointed him in the post-season in 1986. Hundreds of mustards and mustard containers are on display in the basement of the building in downtown Middleton, WI. There are even some real facts about the condiment sprinkled among the facetious news stories and curiosity pieces! A visit is supposed to be only marginally educational, and entrance to the museum is free, because the main floor is the shop, where you can sample every one of the hundreds of mustards for sale as well as purchase mustard/food-themed kitsch or swag from Poupon U. Basically, they're capitalizing on the novelty of the idea of a mustard museum.

The four mustards above are the ones we we tried at the tasting bar, from most (L) to least (R) favorite. Actually, we had already made up our minds to buy a jar of 3 Monkeys Mustard, a spicy-sweet spread concocted by a dad and his kids in their garage. It won the 2012 grand prize in the taste testing competition.

Outside, there was a stage for live music, games for the kids, the Oscar Meyer Wiener Mobile, various mustard vendors, and of course food. One tent was giving away free hotdogs with unlimited mustard; it was $10 if you wanted ketchup! Culver's was selling mustard ice cream, which we tasted. It's better than it sounds: the vanilla and caramel were sweet, with a kick of hot mustard after-taste. We also got our photo taken with the French's mustard bottle (above). DH wondered that we were received in such a friendly manner, although both of us had unwittingly dressed in the opposing colors that day!

Soon enough, it was time to hop back in the car and drive home again. We had a few other small adventures and interesting conversations this summer, and I hope to find the time to tell you a little about each of them soon.

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