Tag Archives: Upper Peninsula

Food of the gods.

“Breakfast for me,” said Shadow. “What’s good?”

“Everything’s good,” said Mabel. “I make it. But this is the farthest south and east of the yoopie you can get pasties, and they are particularly good. Warm and filling too. My specialty.”

Shadow had no idea what a pasty was, but he said that would be fine, and in a few moments Mabel returned with a plate with what looked like a folded-over pie on it. The lower half was wrapped in a paper napkin. Shadow picked it up with the napkin and bit into it: it was warm and filled with meat, potatoes, carrots, onions. “First pasty I’ve ever had,” he said. “It’s real good.”

“They’re a yoopie thing,” she told him. “Mostly you need to be at least up Ironwood way to get one. The Cornish men who came over to work the iron mines brought them over.”

“Yoopie?”

“Upper Peninsula. U.P. Yoopie. It’s the little chunk of Michigan to the northeast.”

The chief of police came back. He picked up the hot chocolate and slurped it. “Mabel,” he said, “are you forcing this nice young man to eat one of your pasties?”

“It’s good,” said Shadow. It was too, a savory delight wrapped in hot pastry.

—Neil Gaiman, American Gods

I’ve got to give Mabel credit for not putting rutabaga in her pasty. Nothing ruins a good pasty like rutabagaThe citizens of Cornwall (and maybe a few Yoopers) might be dismayed to learn that the second sure-fire way to ruin a pasty is to serve it with gravy. Pasty should only ever be served with two condiments: butter and ketchup..

The Cornish may have brought the pasty to the U.P. (maybe they really do pronounce it “yoopie” in Minnesota WisconsinFor some reason I had it in my head that Shadow was in Lakeside, Minnesota. It’s actually Lakeside, Wisconsin., but that seems a little lazy for the Yooper in me), but it was the Finns who kept it there. Today, the pasty is closely associated with Michigan’s Upper Peninsula as lobster is with Maine, cheese with Wisconsin or cheesecake with New York. On arriving in the U.P. by way of the Mackinaw Bridge, the billboards advertising are omnipresent in St. Ignace and points west.

When Laura and I visit my parents in the U.P., pasty is almost invariably the first meal we have at their house (though I haven’t eaten pasty for breakfast in many moons). There are probably a dozen or so places to buy pasties in South Range, Houghton and Hancock, and only one place to buy a Big Mac. That’s the way it should be.