Back in 2014, during the winter of his rookie NBA season and first year in the United States, then-teenager Giannis Antetokounmpo sent a wonderfully wide-eyed and endearingly ingenuous tweet that introduced his delightful personality to Bucks Nation and the basketball world.
The smoothie tweet.
I just taste for the first time a smothie..MAN GOD BLESS AMERICA😊 — Giannis Antetokounmpo (@Giannis_An34) January 20, 2014
Over the next few years, as Antetokounmpo became one of the league’s best players, that simple smoothie tweet became a happy page in his incredible origin story. Once a hungry, almost-homeless kid selling trinkets on the streets in Athens, to an enormously gifted but coarsely raw talent, to an unknown first-round draft pick with an unpronounceable name, to a hardworking and constantly improving player, to a beloved Milwaukee icon, to one of the world’s basketball superstars.
Now, the Greek Freak is going back to his Neophile roots, apparently on a quest to try a bunch of new American foods "for the first time" and tweet about them. It’s unclear what his motivations were, but Antetokounmpo has been spurred on by fans on Twitter. And though his English is lightyears better than it was in 2014, most of the tweets are constructed with the same syntax, guileless giddiness and America-blessing of the original smoothie tweet.
It started on June 4, when he tweeted about trying a corndog.
He liked it.
A couple night later, Antetokounmpo had his "first sip" of Kool-Aid.
Just had my first sip of American Red Kool Aid while watching the game. It’s extremely tasty 🥤. America stay blessed 🙏🏾 #WhatsNextForTheFreak pic.twitter.com/y91RK5IaQS — Giannis Antetokounmpo (@Giannis_An34) June 7, 2018
He liked that too.
The next day, he had Funyuns while getting a pedicure, a double new experience.
While having my first pedicure in two years, I tried my first bag of Funyuns. They where good but I’ll stick to American Cool Ranch Doritos ✌🏾#AmericaStayBlessed #WhatsNextForTheFreak pic.twitter.com/ojiagExo3n — Giannis Antetokounmpo (@Giannis_An34) June 7, 2018
Check and check.
On Thursday night, he said he was going to bed thinking about what to try next.
Going to bed tonight thinking about what I’m going to try next! Tomorrow I’m on a mission to become a better player and to find funnel cakes and smoked turkey legs with mustard! #GoodNight #StayFreaky — Giannis Antetokounmpo (@Giannis_An34) June 8, 2018
Don't we all dream about what we're going to eat next? Someone please give this man a Food Network show.
This is a far-more-enjoyable Giannis food story to breathlessly follow than that dumb Belair fiasco in April, so I’m going to encourage it.
Also, I just got home from a European trip during which I went to Athens and visited the Sepolia neighborhood where Antetokounmpo grew up (and the court he played on). I can say, unequivocally and independent of this recent American-food-trying tweet binge, the Greek fare there was the best food I’ve had in my entire life. So, I feel you, Giannis, and I want to help.
The city of festivals, Milwaukee is at its best in the summer, and Antetokounmpo only has a couple of months to pig out before he presumably has to get back in basketball shape for next season. The timing is perfect.
With that in mind, here are 28 Milwaukee festival foods Giannis (and you!) should try this summer, in calendar order:
Pride Fest, June 7-10: Emma’s Cookie Kitchen Cookie Dough Sundae
Locust Street Festival of Music & Art, June 10: Mama Nana’s Fried Chicken Dinner
Polish Fest, June 15-17: Klements Polish Sausage
Lakefront Festival of Art, June 15-17: Aladdin’s Gyro Sandwich
Juneteenth Day, June 19: Funky Fresh Spring Rolls Buffalo Chicken & Kale
Cedarburg Strawberry Festival, June 23-24: "Original" Strawberry Brat
HartFest, June 22-23: Leff’s Lucky Town Chicken Wings
Garlic Fest, June 24: Snack Boys Tempura Corn Fritters
Summerfest, June 27-July 1, July 3-8: Any (or all) of the 70-plus new foods
Bastille Days, July 12-15: Alliance Francaise Beignet
Gathering on the Green, July 18: Falafel Guys Falafel Sandwich
Garfield Avenue Blues, Jazz, Gospel & Arts Festival, July 20-21: Garfield’s 502 Fried Okra
Festa Italiana, July 20-22: Sendik’s Festa Italiana Sausage
Port Fish Day, July 21: VFW Post 7588 Fish and Chips
Brady Street Festival, July 28: La Masa Argentine Beef Empanada
German Fest, July 27-29: Usinger’s Bratwurst
Milwaukee Brewfest, July 28: Lakefront Brewery Riverwest Stein
Wisconsin State Fair, Aug. 2-12: Poncho Dog Wisconsin Cheese Curds & Brat Taco
Urban Island Beach Party, Aug. 3: Iron Grate BBQ Beef Brisket
Center Street Daze, Aug. 4: Company Brewing Jumbo Tots
Irish Fest, Aug. 16-19: McBob’s Grill Corned Beef and Cabbage
IndiaFest, Aug. 18: Bollywood Grill Chicken Tikka
Mexican Fiesta, Aug. 24-26: Pan de Feria
Harley-Davidson 115th Anniversary 2018 Milwaukee Rally: Immy's African Cuisine Goat Curry
Indian Summer, Sept. 7-9: Fry Bread and Indian Tacos
TosaFest, Sept. 7-8: Bubble Waffle Shoppes Cotton Candy Burrito
Bay View Bash, Sept. 15: LuLu Cafe Loaded LuLu Chips
5th Street Fest, Sept. 22: Fuel Café Clock Shadow Creamery Cheese Curds
Life is for enjoying, exploring, trying new things and eating good food. Kalí óreksi, Giannis!
Born in Milwaukee but a product of Shorewood High School (go ‘Hounds!) and Northwestern University (go ‘Cats!), Jimmy never knew the schoolboy bliss of cheering for a winning football, basketball or baseball team. So he ditched being a fan in order to cover sports professionally - occasionally objectively, always passionately. He's lived in Chicago, New York and Dallas, but now resides again in his beloved Brew City and is an ardent attacker of the notorious Milwaukee Inferiority Complex.
After interning at print publications like Birds and Blooms (official motto: "America's #1 backyard birding and gardening magazine!"), Sports Illustrated (unofficial motto: "Subscribe and save up to 90% off the cover price!") and The Dallas Morning News (a newspaper!), Jimmy worked for web outlets like CBSSports.com, where he was a Packers beat reporter, and FOX Sports Wisconsin, where he managed digital content. He's a proponent and frequent user of em dashes, parenthetical asides, descriptive appositives and, really, anything that makes his sentences longer and more needlessly complex.
Jimmy appreciates references to late '90s Brewers and Bucks players and is the curator of the unofficial John Jaha Hall of Fame. He also enjoys running, biking and soccer, but isn't too annoying about them. He writes about sports - both mainstream and unconventional - and non-sports, including history, music, food, art and even golf (just kidding!), and welcomes reader suggestions for off-the-beaten-path story ideas.