A Taste of America: Pasties

When miners from Cornwall in Great Britain immigrated to the United States, they brought with them the pasty. Easy to pack and handle, a pasty encloses meat, potatoes and vegetables baked in a semicircular pastry.

“Pasty” is an old English word for a meat pie baked without a dish. Its European history is ancient, but it first came to the United States in the 1800s with miners seeking to exploit the rich deposits of minerals in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. In the northernmost parts of Michigan where copper was abundant, miners from Finland, for example, followed those from England and adopted the pasty as their own.

Although the mining industry has collapsed in many regions, the humble pasty lives on. In the town of Calumet in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, the pasty even has its own annual festival — complete with a parade and pasty-baking competition.

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