Friday, July 11, 2014

Pasties: The All-in-One Convenience Food

To me, pasty has to be one of the funniest words in the English language.  Say it with a long ‘a’ sound (pay-stee), and you get an adjective that describes most Midwestern complexions from November through April.  In another context, a pasty, pronounced the same as above, is a noun that describes the decorative adhesive bit strippers cover their nipples with.

Hahaha.  See how funny that is?

Now, say the word with a short ‘a’ sound (past-ee).  The first thing that might come to mind, if you’re a Harry Potter fan, are the Pumpkin Pastie goodies served on the Hogwarts Express.  They’re never really described fully, so one just assumes they are a yummy, sweet, confectionary pastry.  And the second thing that comes to mind, which will probably be the first thing if you’re from Northern Michigan, is the delicious meat-and-veg concoction wrapped in a pastry shell.

Pasty restaurants are in abundance here Up North.  From what information I can gather, a pasty is originally a British thing...particularly from the region of the country called Cornwall (way southwestern county of England).  I guess, as history has it, miners’ wives would bake up these meat and vegetable loaves and wrap them in a thin sheet of pastry dough (not sweet dough, though).  Then, they’d bake them and wrap the finished pasty in sheets of cloth or newspaper before sending them off with their hard-working menfolk.

Five hours later...these blue-collar menfolk would unearth their carefully prepared pasties just in time for lunch.  And then guess what?  The pasties would still be warm and yummy and filling.  It’d be like us today nuking a burrito at the gas station...except less cool because we’d burn our mouths if we tried eating the burrito right away.

And, then for probably some reason related to Pasty Persecution, those Cornwall folk made their way to America.  And they brought their pasties with them!  Typically pasties are served with gravy, but I don’t know if that was a Cornwall original or a New World thing.  Maybe it was the Canadians?  See a later post on poutine.  Anyway, the resourcefulness of such a foodstuff is obvious.  Who cares, really, what kind of meat the wives used?  It was cooked down into a loaf anyway...with some carrots, potatoes, rutabagas - whatever was on hand.  And then it’s wrapped in a yummy doughy below.

Courtesy of Millie's On Main, Mackinac Island, MI

 If those miners didn’t sing Yippee-High-Skippy-Ho-It’s-Off-To-Work-We-Go with such a delicious lunchtime treat in their hands, then I just don’t know what.

Naturally, when the family came to visit me here on the island, having a pasty was on top of the culinary list.  For the most part, we all enjoyed it...

Hunt's Pasties in Mackinaw City, MI

Elliot said later he did overdid it on the gravy.  Alas.
I will say that I wasn’t overawed by the blandish conglomeration of seasoned meat and vegetable.  However, there is some phenomenal potential for awesomeness here.  The question is not How To Make the Original Pasty Better? but What Cool Stuff Can I Wrap a Pasty Shell Around?

I have this strange feeling there will be a Pasty Party at my house when I get home.  Pasty-complexioned people wearing pasties will be most welcome.

1 comment:

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