Wisconsin Fish Boil


I always heard about “Beautiful Door County” in upper Wisconsin when I lived in Chicago in the late 2000s. I never made it there until the Covid summer of 2020. We drove through the rural country through Wisconsin from northern Bayfield to Green Bay, WI and back up the “thumb” of Door County.

Tip of Door County

How do you pick out where you want to eat in a strange town? Internet? Menu on the door? Number of cars in parking lot? Reviews? Location?

Door County is a peninsula of small towns and orchards surrounded by blue-green Green Bay and Lake Michigan. The cost for a night in a hotel in Door County is remarkably expensive. We found a place for the night – Nordic Bay, not fancy and not cheap. It was located on the western Green Bay side between the towns of Ephraim and Gills Rock. We were disappointed that we arrived too late in the afternoon to kayak to the lakeshore caves.

The Fish Boil of Ephraim Post Office was the ‘place to go’ to experience this Nordic tradition.   The fresh white fish of the bay are used in the legendary ‘fish boil’ supper. The meal is followed by locally grown cherries in the homemade cherry pie. We were served outside during Covid, and we left full of potatoes, fish, and pie.  

 “During the boil over, the cooks pour kerosene on outdoor bonfires heating large pots of boiling water packed with fresh whitefish and potatoes. This fuel shoots flames some 15 feet into the air – an awe-inducing announcement that dinner is ready.” USA TODAY

“Moreover, no one knows when their hour will come: As fish are caught in a cruel net, or birds are taken in a snare, so people are trapped by evil times that fall unexpectedly upon them.” Ecclesiastes 9:12 NIV

We hiked the tip of the peninsula in a small park surrounded by private land. Bluffs were steeply sloping down to the bay in a lush forest surrounded the park. We rested and listened to the water crash on the bluffs and the boats coming to look at the caves accessible only from the remote shoreline.

How do you memorialize your repeated hikes? Selfies? Foot shots? 

There were stores specializing in every fruit grown on the island, especially cherries, stores with grass on the roofs being mown by goats or machines, an old Moravian church and a lovely sunset. Now I understand why anyone would want to spend more time in Door County hiking, shopping and kayaking.

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