Wisconsin's Bread Traditions

Armenian blessing of bread
Photo: Anne Pryor,
"Blessing of Magdah" ceremony, Armenian picnic,
Racine, WI, 1997

Hundreds of ethnic groups and many tribal nations live in Wisconsin. Our cultural richness shows up especially in our food.

Food is one of the most basic ways for us to know-and tell others-who we are. Food helps us to remember our heritage, express our ethnicity, and take part in our communities. We pass recipes down through generations, and we make special foods to celebrate religious and other important events in our lives.

We even identify certain places with their foods: Cornish pasties from the former lead mine towns of southwestern Wisconsin, fry bread from the reservations, Norwegian lefse from Stoughton, Danish kringle from Racine, Belgian pies from Kewaunee County, Polish ponczaks in Stevens Point.

Slicing extra dough off of a pasty
Photo: Michelle Hartley, "Trimming a Pasty Pie," Patti McKinley at Red Rooster Cafe, Mineral Point, WI, 1997

Many of the cultural groups in Wisconsin have distinctive breads and traditions about bread. Middle and Northern Europeans brought with them the taste for rye breads. The Oneida people and African Americans both make cornbread, but they prepare and serve it in culturally distinct ways. Tortillas, Syrian flatbread, Ethiopian injera, lefse-all are forms of flatbread, made from different ingredients in different ways.

People outside the state may think Wisconsin is nothing but sausage and cheese, but our breads show our great diversity.

Copyright @ 2003 The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin
Last Updated: April 28, 2003