I am just back from a quick trip to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. It was my first visit to the UP since going low-carb. My main observation from the trip is that someone needs to invent a low-carb pasty.
First, a little history.
In 1835-36, the Territory of Michigan and the State of Ohio fought a war over the Toledo Strip, a parcel of border land that includes the present-day city of Toledo, Ohio. You may think Ohio won the war, given that it currently possesses the Toledo Strip. In fact, Andrew Jackson and the U.S. Congress, fearing the Wolverines were about to administer an epic whipping to the Buckeyes, intervened, offering Michigan statehood and a huge tract of land to the north in exchange for letting Ohio have Toledo.
Michigan residents took a while to think over the offer. Apparently, the threat of statehood was the main sticking point.
Statehood aside, there’s no doubt that Michigan came out ahead on this deal. The huge tract of land is the Upper Peninsula, home to mother-lodes of copper, iron, timber and pasties, and some spectacular scenery.
The copper and iron have been mined out, and the virgin pine cleared, but the pasties and scenery remain.
A pasty is meat and veggies baked in a pastry shell. Miners took pasties down into the shafts for a more-or-less hot lunch. As noted, the miner’s lunch has out-lived mining and become a meal associated with the UP. I used to love them — before I started eating low-carb.
One traditional pasty recipe contains flour, butter, round steak, boneless pork loin, carrots, potatoes and rutabaga.
I saw numerous signs for pasties along U.S. Route 2 between St. Ignace and Manistique, but none advertised a low-carb version. Given that flour, potatoes and carrots are prominent ingredients, it seems like a forlorn hope.
Still, I found that I miss being able to eat a pasty more than I miss being able to eat other traditional UP foods, such as doughnuts and fudge.
There’s nothing low-cal about the UP, which made sense when most of the population was digging out copper or chopping down trees for a living. Now some adjustments are in order.
A low-carb pasty would be a good first step.
I believe that if you eat carbs (a reasonable number of them anyway) with fat and fiber it lessens their effect on your blood sugar. So on very rare occasions I think it can be done without too much damage.
Joe Lindley says
My Goodness Jim… I was just cruising through you site and saw this article on Pasties and stopped cold. I’m a Texas boy but for a circuitous trail of reasons ended up going to school at Michigan Technological University in Houghton, Michigan (UP). Yes, I did stay all 4 years and graduated from there. I know exactly what a Pasty is and have spent many a pleasant hour with college buddies on a shoreline just like your picture. Regardless of the low carb issue it was great to reminisce! Are you from the UP?
Nope, I’m what the Yoopers call a “troll” — a Michigander who lives “below the bridge” — that is, south of the Mackinaw Bridge, in the Lower Peninsula. But I have friends in the UP, and went for a quick visit. If I had stayed longer, I probably would have eaten at least one pasty. Sure, it is higher in carbs than most (or all) meals I eat, but it’s not like eating a cookie or a piece of cake! I have only been to Michigan Tech once, years ago, when a friend of mine was teaching there. Beautiful country!