Monday, November 05, 2012

The Only Kind Of Pasty Ed Is Going To Get Me To Consider

Whenever we go somewhere new, I always do a little research on the place.  I like to find out if there's anything in the town I shouldn't miss, if they have any notable statues or museums or tourist attractions, and most of all, if they're famous for any kind of food.  In the Upper Peninsula, the regional favorite is the Pasty.

Pronounced PASS-tee, not PAY-stee or PAY-stree, this little bundle of meat, onion, potato and rutabaga sounded like something we'd definitely have to try. 
The pasty made its way to the Upper Peninsula when a group of Finnish immigrants followed Cornish miners to the area in 1864.  The Finns adopted the Cornish Pasty and started to bake them to feed the mean who worked in the copper mines. 

We found Lawry’s Pasty Shop- the home of the Mining Journal's Reader's Choice award for the Best Pasty six years running - on the recommendation of a local who said he's not really crazy about pasties, but the only ones he does like come from Lawry's.  His recommendation was corraborated by that of Jane and Michael Stern of, who have eaten everywhere.  Of course we had to go.
You'll find Lawry's on US Highway 41 in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, in the town of Ishpeming.  The place looks like a dump from the outside - non-descript building, tiny neon "open" sign in the vestibule - but it had enough room for us to park the truck, so we pulled in!

The place was small, with a few tables, a small area with items for sale, a cash register and the kitchen prep area, visible to the room.  We were greeted by a young guy who was SUPER-friendly.  I asked him to explain the pasty to me (what exactly was in it and which he recommended trying) and show me the difference in the sizes they offered. 

He launched into a ten minute explanation of the pasties, showed me the different sizes, told me how they were made, what they put in them, how long they cooked them for, and answered our question about how busy they are during the summer season.  Three times busier, he said. 
We each ordered the 12 oz. pasty.  They were slipped from a paper bag, which was kept in a heated box.  The kid behind the counter said they were always made this way, that they were baked and then kept warm, ready to serve.

The crust was golden browna and crimped on the edge (not the top!) like a traditional Cornish Pasty should be.  I asked about the vegetarian pasty - only vegetables, no meat inside - and was told really it wasn't really vegetarian because of the lard used to make the crust. 
Which explains why the crust was so flaky and delicious.  Nothing makes a crust flake like lard does.  Inside, the chopped meat, onions, and chunks of potato and rutabaga.  Who even uses rutabaga anymore??  Everything mixed together with some spices (which I think were secret, because he didn't elaborate), plopped in the middle of the dough, and baked up.

I don't know that I would necessarily rave about the pasty, but it is something I would eat again.  It was very comfort foodish to me - warm, with meat and potatoes, wrapped in a crust?  It wasn't bad.  I think if I were to have one again, I would ask him to throw mine in the pizza oven - I like my food piping hot.  I know they're supposed to be eaten by hand, and could be the way they're wrapped, but I could see a little sort of gravy of some kind being served with them, making them doubly delicious. 

I'm glad I was able to partake in this regional food, as I kind of like being able to say "I've had that!" when someone mentions a certain type of food from a specific region.  Next time, I'll have to try the cudighi.

You can find a little history on the pasty here and here, and a recipe to make them for yourself here.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2011: What Would You Think If You Saw A Grown Woman Climbing Out Of A Big Rig Wearing Pajamas?
2010: The Machines Might Be Old But The Smokers Start Young
2009: Don’t Take It For Granite
2008: Yes We Did!!
2007: Green Acres Is The Place To Be, Solar Living Is The Life For Me
2006: Hail To Our Beautiful Maine Coon Mascot
2005: Weekend In Nature


Pat said...

So have you had Cincinnati Chili? How about toasted ravoli in St. Louis? There's a Cornish Pasty restaurant in Tempe and Mesa, I guess I'll have to try them out.

The Daily Rant said...

PAT: We have not had Cincinnati Chili (although I am making my father's famous hot dog cart chili tomorrow night: and we have had toasted ravioli in St. Louis - on "The Hill".

And I also came across that Pasty restaurant in AZ when I was looking up information for this post. I didn't even know pasties existed until I went to the U.P.!

But you know, I guess I sort of liken them to empanadas that are abundant around the SW, and the stromboli I grew up with in NY (even a little like Calzones, although they're mostly cheese).

I'm not crazy-adventurous with my food - for instance, I probably wouldn't fare too well in Asian countries - but I do like to try new things once in a while!

Pat said...

Your dads chili sounds very interesting. Cincy chili is nothing like other chilis. It's really an acquired taste, so many people don't like it the first time.