Thursday, August 13, 2009

Pasties and a G Thing

The first leg of our trip West brought us North, through picturesque Charlevoix and Petoskey, then over the Mackinac bridge to Michigan’s wild and remote Upper Peninsula. Almost immediately, the traffic dissipated and we found ourselves on the straight and lonely country roads that lead to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore on the southern coast of Lake Superior. The geological wonder from which the park derives its name is a series of sandstone cliffs that have been worn away by erosion and colored by mineral deposits in the earth.

By the time we arrived in the decidedly down-at-heel Munising Falls, gateway to both Pictured Rocks and the Hiawatha National Forest but appearing as little more than a scattering of houses around a waterfront paper factory, we were ravenous. The most illustrious of the UP’s contributions to world cuisine (not an especially vast category, to be sure) is the pasty, a kind of savory pastry stuffed with beef, potatoes, and whatever other root vegetables happen to be available (potentially including turnip, carrot, rutabaga and parsnip). The pasty actually has Cornish origins; in the 19th century, the UP experienced an influx of Cornish miners hoping to ply their trade in the region’s growing tin and copper industries. Their underground toils left their hands covered with arsenic from the chemicals used for excavation, and these hand pies were made with a convenient thick dough handle so miners could safely grasp and consume their lunch before discarding the contaminated remains. We ate ours with runcible spoons.

By the next afternoon, we were in Green Bay, Wisconsin, where we toured storied Lambeau Field and sampled a pint of Curly’s Special Ale, fermented by Leinenkugel’s Brewery (see above!) exclusively for Packers devotees. Fully fortified, we opted to stay on in Green Bay to check out the new blitz packages at preseason practice and offer the team a few useful (and much-appreciated) pointers.

More pictures of our exciting adventures Up North are available here:

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