Monday, August 10, 2009
Food, Glorious Food...
To really get to know an area and its people…you need to sample its food, particularly if it’s homemade. One of the most frequently advertised items on the bill of fare at local eateries in the U.P. are pasties. Of course, I mispronounced this savory dish, which is said to be of Finnish origin and sent one of natives into fits of laughter. He said it was a little meat pie, not something frequently associated with scantily clad exotic dancers. We found out that one of the best spots to obtain this delectable delight was at the local combination meat market-café-gas station. We picked up our pasties which were already baked and popped them into the microwave (yes, our camper has this modern convenience) and they were very tasty. Although the crust was a little tough, the pie was generously filled with root vegetables including rutabaga, tender beef and gravy. So well did we enjoy this local treat that we stopped at the home of a woman who was advertising hers along the road side. I felt a little odd about going down into her basement kitchen where she prepared her baked goods, but she seemed so friendly, so anxious… and besides I knew David was sitting out in the truck so I followed her down the dank concrete stairwell. She explained that her recipe was handed down from her 90-year-old mother-in-law. I picked out two of the pies, she wrapped them up and was so pleased that I had stopped by, I felt guilty for ever having had visions of Sweeney Todd’s Mrs. Levitt character and the questionable contents of her pies.
Of course fish is a mainstay of the U.P. folk and we frequently picked up sections of smoked trout or whitefish. It is absolutely delicious and easy to find in both restaurants and markets. We also kept on the lookout for fresh produce. Although being so far north, most of what we found was brought in from lower Michigan. Still, we feel that we’ve been dining like kings.