Years of travel have lowered my expectations of airport food to somewhere between ancient gas station hot dog and frozen chicken cutlet. Any choice you make is seemingly a mistake and will set you back a ten-spot.
But Milwaukee County's General Mitchell International Airport's Terminal D let me dream for one moment yesterday that greatness can be found during a layover. In the land of beers and brats, Usinger's Deli is redefining the meaning of the airport concessionaire.
On a plane filled with elderly passengers grabbing the back of seats -- okay, just my seat -- and screaming babies -- okay, my baby -- I briefly forgot the frustration of travel thanks to the snap of the natural casing on Usinger's smoked Polish sausage. Nestled in a pretzel roll and topped with grilled onions -- the slightly garlicky pork and beef sausage didn't need condiments to sing.
Usinger's is known nationwide for making sausage, restaurants like The Shack Shack in New York City list it by name on their menu as a point of pride. It's been "America's finest sausage," since 1880 when Fred Usinger and his wife Louise first started cranking out sausage in their butcher shop for local tavern owners.
Wherever you land in Milwaukee Airport, you need to walk over to Concourse D. That's where one, old world deli decided to take a stand against reheated Vienna-style hot dogs this past September. There's no doubt that Usinger's has a clear legacy in Milwaukee, but I think it's time they are recognized for something far more important -- saving airport food.
[Image via Jovon Everett]