The local food movement’s always been a way of life in the Great Waters. Roadside diners serve not just home cooking but also treats made from the indigenous whitefish, berries, venison and maple syrup that sustained the Anishinabeg. A few of the indigenous highlights:
Pasty The pasty (pass-tee) is about as complicated as foods get in the Upper Peninsula. Cornish miners who came to work the copper and iron mines of the western U.P. introduced the all-in-one meal of meat, potatoes and vegetables, wrapped in a pie crust and baked to golden perfection. The savory pie made the transition from miners’ lunch buckets to diners and roadside stands across the U.P. Pasty fans argue about whether they should be eaten with ketchup or gravy and with or without rutabaga.
Wild Berries The U.P. can thank ancient glacial action and the Great Lakes for providing the sandy soil and environment ideal for wild berries. Blueberries and raspberries are abundant and the stuff of locally made jams and jellies.
Each August the Lake Superior village of Paradise hosts a Wild Blueberry Festival featuring a Blueberry Brunch, musical jamboree, and arts & crafts fair.
Whitefish Wild, locally caught whitefish is served planked, grilled, fried, stuffed, or simply broiled at family restaurants and finer dining rooms throughout The Great Waters.
Centennial Cranberry Farm The bogs near Lake Superior first started producing the red berries in 1876. Visitors are welcome from Memorial weekend through October.
Fudge Cooked in copper kettles and slathered into shape on marble slabs, the sweet treat has been a Mackinac Island favorite since 1887. More than two dozen flavors are made fresh daily by a half dozen confectioners at multiple locations.
Smoked Fish and Jerky The signs by the side of the road and smoke coming from the shed in the yard have drivers braking for locally made smoked whitefish, salmon and lake trout, and buffalo, beef, and turkey jerky in multiple flavors. Because the hot smoked fish is perishable, it’s made in small batches on a continual basis and found throughout The Great Waters.
Morel Mushrooms Shroomers head to the Eastern U.P. in late May and early June to hunt the elusive morel. Most keep secret their best hunting grounds, but chambers of commerce can be helpful sources for getting started.
Breweries Brewmasters credit the Great Lakes water for the small batch brews that get rave reviews at Lake Superior Brewing Company in Grand Marais and Tahquamenon Falls Brewery & Pub located at the Upper Tahquamenon Falls State Park.
Winery Michigan’s major wine producing areas are found along the Lake Michigan coast and in Southeast Michigan. Utilizing grapes from some of those vineyards, Mackinaw Trail Winery brought fine winemaking to the Upper Peninsula at its waterfront location in Manistique.