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Ketchup or Gravy: A Pasty Story

Few things are debated more in the Upper Peninsula than what topping you prefer on your pasty, but we should talk about what a pasty is before we get to the all-important question.

Chopped meat, potatoes and/or rutabaga, carrots and onions are the essentials of a pasty. The ingredients are mixed together and placed on one side of a good-sized circle of pie dough, folded in half and sealed, and then baked to perfection. Please note that the contents can vary; these are just the basics.

These hearty, handheld meals are linked back to Cornish miners that settled in the UP for work in the copper mines on the western end of the peninsula. The convenience of the pasty caught on and the recipe was shared with other miners. Soon, everyone was bringing these delicious meat pies to work.

Karl's Cuisine Pasty in Sault Ste. Marie

Pasties can now be found throughout the UP from roadside stops to sit-down restaurants. Even the local preschool’s parents make and sell pasties for a fundraiser. In Sault Ste. Marie, we highly recommend stopping at Karl’s Cuisine and ordering a pasty. The recipe has been handed down through Karl’s family for generations. Trust us, you will not be disappointed by this family tradition.

Yooper Pasty

By this time, you’re most likely wondering where the link is to a fantastic age-old recipe so you can make your own pasties, but you won’t find it here. We were able to get Tom Pink to share his ice fishing spots, but NO ONE would share their recipe for pasties.

One thing we should address is the pronunciation of these tasty meat pies. I say this because a number of visitors to the UP are a little embarrassed because of the mispronunciation. A “Pass-tee” is a delicious meat pie and “Paste-ees” are risque articles of clothing. We’re really just looking out for you.

With that being said, we have to go back to the opening of this blog where we mentioned a debate.

The miners didn’t have the luxury of condiments, but somewhere in history beef gravy and tomato ketchup became the primary add-ons to the pasty. The debate rages on today between almost anyone who has ever had the pleasure of eating a pasty. There are however many things that you can add to your pasty from sour cream to hot sauce to BBQ suace, we’ve heard them all.

Michele Malette Young

When you visit the UP, you should make sure to try at least one pasty, but choose wisely, because they’re not all the same. Feel free to ask where to get a Pasty when you get to town, but be prepared for an opinionated answer. Most answers will most likely be in a Yooper’s kitchen.

Huge shoutout to our friends at Yooper Pasty for sharing their Facebook album. Please take a moment and visit Yooper Pasty for some UP humor and share your PASS-TEE photos using #ILoveTheSoo and follow us on Facebook, TwitterPinterest, and Instagram.