Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Getting Out of the Den

Spring is here in Northern Michigan and all of the snow is gone from the ground. It’s time for us all to crawl out of our dens after a long winter hibernation. It’s our first year here so we have to go with what the neighbors tell us, and what we get in the news. Apparently, it was a very mild winter up here at the tip of the mitt. Normally the snow is on the ground until the end of March. I get the impression that it is the truth, as most of the local museums and historical societies are still closed until later next month. I don’t think that their budgets are prepared for an early spring. However, we’re still getting out and learning new things about this part of the country.

For example, did you ever hear of a pastie? No, not the uniform item worn by exotic dancers. This pastie is pronounced with a “soft a.” It’s a meat and vegetable pie that is popular in Northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula. It’s kind of like a turnover, only with beef or chicken, etc. The story goes that it became popular with Cornish miners of England. Their wives would cook up this “balanced meal in a crust” and send their men off to work with their lunch wrapped in yesterday’s newspaper. When the immigrants came to the Upper Peninsula to work in the mines, they brought the pastie with them and the rest, as they say, is history.

I enjoy the history behind local food, but probably I like eating the food more. We tried one of these pasties a couple of weeks ago at Hunt’s Mackinaw Pastie & Cookie Company in Mackinaw. This restaurant was featured on the Travel Channel, although I didn’t know that at the time we stopped in. Lucky for us, they were the only restaurant we found open on the afternoon we went to look at the ice under the Mackinac Bridge. Nevertheless, that does not mean we settled. Unlike the picture of pasties in an English bakery here, we Americans smother ours in gravy and have a little coleslaw on the side. Pie crust and beef, covered in gravy, what’s not to love?! No, the beef pastie was tasty and I would highly recommend you give one a try. This can go in my “good stuff” file along with the shoe-fly pie from Adams County, Pennsylvania, the tri-tip roast of Fresno, California, and there will never be another reuben sandwich like in that corner market in Port Townsend, Washington.
We explored down the lakeshore on the west side of Michigan last weekend, visiting Manistee and Ludington. I’ll leave you with pictures of the breakwater in Ludington, Michigan. It was a windy day last Saturday, and the breakwater was doing its job.

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