The Upper Peninsula of Michigan is the northern of the two major landmasses that make up Michigan. It is commonly referred to as the Upper Peninsula,
the U.P., or Upper Michigan. Some refer to it as the land “above the Bridge”. It is bounded on the north by Lake Superior, on the east by the St. Mary’s River, on the south by Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, and on the west by Wisconsin.
The Upper Peninsula contains almost one-third of the land area of Michigan but just three percent of its total population. Residents are frequently called Yoopers (derived from “U.P.-ers”) and have a strong regional identity. It includes the only counties in the United States where a plurality of residents claim Finnish ancestry.
The Upper Peninsula has a distinctive local cuisine. The pasty, a kind of meat turnover originally brought to the region by Cornish miners, is popular among locals and tourists alike. Pasty varieties include chicken, venison, pork, hamburger, and pizza. Many restaurants also serve potato sausage and cudighi, a spicy Italian meat.
Fresh Great Lakes fish, such as the lake trout, whitefish, and (in the spring) smelt are widely eaten, despite concerns about PCB contamination and elevated mercury concentrations. With the cold and snow who really cares about a little PCB, besides the three eyed smoked fish is very popular. Thimbleberry and Chokecherry jam is a local treat. One of these days we will talk about the Great Thimbleberry excursion to Door County with our friends Guy and Vicki.
Ranger Dave and I arrived on a Monday – which means that all the good restaurants were closed. Since it was about noon we decided to have lunch before climbing on the sleds and touring the countryside. Larry’s Good Time Saloon was recommended by the restaurant next door (they were closed, but the door was open and people were eating) as the place to go. RD was hungry and forged ahead, upon entering no one was there, but the bar looked inviting. I guess its Manhattan time, RD orders a drink and is told ‘we don’t have the stuff for Manhattans’. Looks like the start to a beautiful day – we settle for diet Pepsi. Since it’s lunch time I order the olive burger with fries and RD orders the Taco Salad with a side of jalapeños. RD gets the ‘look’ from the bartender and all I can think about is what is going to happen to our food. Not to worry, the food arrives and my burger is good, the oil in the fryer probably needs to be changed but WTF, RD is loving the salad and orders another bowl of jalapeños. The bartender again gives him the look and says ‘be my guest I can’t stand that crap’ then gives him a soup bowl of peppers. My guess is there is no bacteria that can reside in RD’s stomach, in fact he may just have a stainless steel implant inside there. Now the other bartender comes in and she has here wing in a sling – turns out she flipped her snowmobile. This is a tough crowd and I am keeping my distance.
Larry’s is one of those places you should only see in the dark. Daylight is cruel when it comes to revealing all the cleaning indiscretions; I am still pretty sure something was looking at me from behind the bottles on the top shelf.