New book looks at U.P. food heritage

Readers of Upper Peninsula history have come to know and respect Russell Magnaghi’s byline.

And why not? The Northern Michigan University history professor emeritus has penned several U.P.-related volumes over the years,with his latest being “Classic Food and Restaurants of the Upper Peninsula.”

“I arrived in Marquette in 1969 to teach at NMU. Knowing the dominant nationality represented in the region, one of my first questions was, ‘Where is the best Finnish restaurant?’ My roommate at the time, who was a Pelkie native, responded, ‘Finnish restaurants do not exist here because Finns only eat fish and white food,'” said Magnaghi with in an NMU statement on the book. “My quest for the food heritage of the region began at that moment, since everyone has a food-related story to tell.”

Magnaghi explores the origins of the iconic U.P. trio: the pasty, cudighi and fudge.

Classic restaurants featured in the book range from Clyde’s Drive-In locations to chop suey cafes that capitalized on a national craze and were scattered throughout the U.P.

The House of Ludington in Escanaba, which opened in the 1860s as the largest hotel north of Milwaukee, is one of the fine dining establishments referenced in the book, which was released in May.

“The bottom line is that the Upper Peninsula has a signature food culture that is worth sharing and celebrating,” said Magnaghi, who said he completed the project during the pandemic. “It may not be as varied as you find in major cities, but by building on the indigenous foods that were readily available in the woods and waters, it is uniquely U.P.”

We highly recommend readers search out and find the book. It sounds like an excellent weekend read.

— The Mining Journal, Marquette


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