Savoring a Regional Specialty

While traveling through the Upper Peninsula of Michigan today we savored Pasties, a regional specialty whose origins date back to the miners who settled this rugged region of the state.

The server at White Tail Restaurant and Motel in Brevort, Michigan, shared that to be a true UP pastie, the handheld meat pie must include four ingredients: potatoes, carrots, onions, and rutabagas. These are all root vegetables that are easily grown and stored. The ingredients for the pastie are seasoned, cooked and encased in a flaky pastry crust, and baked to a golden brown. Joel (pictured below) is in charge if making the pasties at the White Tail Restaurant. The pasties are served with a savory brown gravy.

Though there was a good-natured dispute among the restaurant staff as to whether pasties originated in Cornwall, England or with the Finnish settlers from the area, they were in agreement about the role of pasties in UP history.

The miners’ wives would make pasties for their husbands’ lunches from the leftovers from the evening meal. The pasties were wrapped in newspaper or foil. The wives would place hot coals in the bottom of empty paint cans. The pasties were then placed atop the coals so that the miners could enjoy a hot meal at the bottom of the cold mine. Pretty resourceful, don’t you think?

I’ll share a recipe and links to more pastie history next week. We’re back on the road heading for a fish boil in Door County, Wisconsin this evening!

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