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The ethnic diversity of the Upper Peninsula has resulted in a rich variety of foods, some of which are found nowhere else. Your visit to the 2017 International Rally (July 22-29 at the Upper Peninsula (UP) State Fairgrounds, Escanaba, Michigan) should include some gastronomic tourism. Sample
what the UP has to offer!

The Pasty:
The apex of the Yooper food pyramid is surely the pasty (pronounced “pass tee”), a meat pie made to be eaten out of hand. It was brought to the UP by Cornish miners. The pasty provided a way to serve a hot lunch in the mine, since the crust is self-insulating. The traditional ingredients are meat, potatoes, onions and rutabagas. The meat is most commonly beef although others such as venison may be used. (Nowadays pasty shops sell pasties containing all kinds of things, like ham and egg breakfast pasties.)

In days “before Airstream” we had a family tradition on UP trips. After crossing The Bridge, heading for Marquette, we would stop at Lehto’s Pasties on US 2 just east of St. Ignace. There we would buy a pasty for each person plus one for our dogs. Now - very important! You do not simply bite into a pasty straight from the oven! We would unwrap them, break them in two to let the steam out, and lay them out on the dashboard glare shield to cool before eating (and apportioning to the dogs). By Brevort they had cooled enough to eat. We have fond memories of driving through the beautiful scenery of the UP munching on pasties.

Trenary Toast:
Trenary Toast (accent on the second syllable – rhymes with “canary”) is actually a UP invention, although it
may have descended from the similar Finnish korppu. A small town bakery, The Trenary Home Bakery, started making it years ago, and today it is sold in their signature brown bags in supermarkets across the UP.
Trenary Toast is dry cinnamon toast, pre-toasted, pre-dried, and pre-cinnamoned, ready to eat. There are two schools of thought on how best to eat it, the “dunk-in-coffee” school and the “crunch” school. Dunkers are more numerous, but I’m a cruncher, myself.

There’s a lot of Italian influence in the UP, but since Italian food is popular all over the US, one might not suppose the UP would have any unique Italian dishes. But there is one. Cudighi, a distinctively spiced Italian sausage, is only found in Italy and in the UP, where it’s sometimes called Yooper Sausage. Its popularity in the UP stems from the fact that an enterprising Italian immigrant in Marquette started selling cudighi sandwiches in the 1930s and they were an instant success. The UP cudighi sandwich was originally served with mustard and onions, but today the usual Italian combination of onions, cheese and tomato sauce is more common.

The characteristic taste of cudighi stems from an unusual combination of spices, including fennel, nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon and cloves. (And, of course, garlic!) Besides cudighi sandwiches, it makes a fine breakfast sausage and meat sauce for spaghetti.

In traveling about the UP you are likely to come across all kinds of foods you never heard of in restaurants, delis, bakeries, and grocery stores. Ethnic specialties like lefse, pierogis, and kolaczki. Foods grown or harvested in the UP, like smoked fish, venison sausage, and thimbleberries. Try them, and make them part of your Airstream adventure.
Betcha you’ll like ‘em!

Category: 2017 Escanaba, MI