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The Pasty – Comfort Food or Pure Brilliance?

In one of my previous blogs, I mentioned one of my favorite foods, The Pasty. But, I didn’t explain just what a wonderful piece of Yooper history the pasty is, nor just how tasty.

The pasty, a baked pastry, originated in Cornwall, United Kingdom, and was designed by the miners, as a way to have a hand-held filling meal, down in the mines. With the U.P. being rich in iron ore and many other metals and minerals, immigrants flocked to Michigan’s upper peninsula, to settle and work in the mines, bringing many of their foods and traditions with them.

My dad was a miner, and my mom and her family became masters at making the pasties. We ate them at least once a week. They are basically a meat and potato pie, filled with ground/minced meat, potatoes, rutabaga, carrots and onions. In our family, we had to have some with onions and some without, but many Yoopers will argue that you can’t leave out the onions. There is also another very strong argument that pasties must be eaten with ketchup, while others insist on gravy. This feud has divided many households. Mine had a strict ketchup-only house rule.

Both my mother and father's families settled in the U.P., so we were surrounded by grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles and many extended family members. Many days were spent cooking up large batches of family favorites like pasties, cabbage rolls and cheese Povitica, a Finnish/Croatian dessert. I can remember the warmth and smells of my grandmother’s kitchen, to this day.

Now, I must admit, I am not a baker, nor do I possess many culinary skills, but my daughter has picked up the tradition and she makes my grandmother’s pasties for us, in our Iowa kitchen (ketchup-only, of course). Thank goodness for family traditions that carry on through the generations!

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