Arcadian Splendor in the Northwoods and a Fish Boil

 For the past year I have worked my poor feet to the  calloused bone selling  cosmetics by day and catering for Coco Cooks on rare day offs, to recover from the layoff  of last year.  Oh, to have the three weeks, and twelve personal days a year. Those days are over… All that hard worked accrued a paltry fifty five hours of vacation time. I was tired and ready for an adventure. Certain Someone had earlier returned from the house in Sweden to settle his parents in, and a trip to Europe wasn’t on the cards for my schedule nor his. I have always wanted to do a road trip with him.  I was thinking a weekend in Door County, in our backyard. Instead, he planned a full on week of driving what is known as the Circle Tour. A scenic Lakeside route along the Great Lakes. On our trip we hit three of the five Great Lakes. Lake Michigan, Lake Superior, and Lake Huron as we meandered through the Northwoods  and Upper Peninsula of Wisconsin and Michigan. There is so much to say and share about this trip. I received culinary, sensory, and even political inspiration.

I always believe you discover so much about a culture through travel. What amazed us the most,  was the bucolic splendor which reminded us of Sweden and Germany. Immigrants from Scandinavian, Germany, and the British Isles went west and carved out villages, mines and farms amongst the lakes during the late 19th century, where native American  tribes called home before (but lost it). French Canadian fur trappers and explorers also worked and profited  from the land.  Our favorite spot was a rural town called Munising, that housed the majestic Pictured Rocks that cradled the mighty Lake Superior. Simply breathtaking. It’s as if nature over the years carved out and painted a beautiful frame for the lake.

The leaves are just starting to turn, reminding us that autumn is around the corner and summer should be enjoyed mindfully. And the cherries  are plentiful, even though many are last year’s preserved, because of the drought. Sweet corn, apples, peaches, pasties and whitefish beckon. And if you are quiet and really focus, you will see some deer and their fawn elegantly traipse the birch trees. I leave you with this pictorial of a fish boil in Door County (a tradition that Scandinavian settlers actually started in the UP 150 years ago).

Matthew,  the master of the fish boil at Pelletiers. He also handles the BBQ smoke pit at Casey’s in Egg Harbor.

5 pounds of salt  are in the kettle. First the red potatoes, then the small sweet onions, then the local whitefish.

No one knows where the actual ” boil over ” technique arises from. The fish leaves a heavy grey oil residue with a strange taste. The fuel added to the flame at the end of cooking boils over the film,  from the kettle.

The fish boil  is a signature culinary tradition of the lake towns of  Wisconsin. They start in May and end in October.

The humble  plate of fish, potatoes and sweet yellow onions doused in butter, is far from bland. The wholesome simple flavors of the earth , dairy from the cows, and the fresh  water lake are in perfect harmony. Then what better finish than a slice of sweet  cherry pie?

 *Traveling with my XYBoard was a great portable way to capture my thoughts and random pictures, while staying connected on the road. The Verizon hotspots saved us as we were in some pretty remote towns and aided in our navigation, restaurant and hotel picks.

Disclosure: I am participating in the Verizon Wireless Midwest Savvy Gourmets program and have been provided with a wireless device and six months of service in exchange for my honest opinions about the product.

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5 thoughts on “Arcadian Splendor in the Northwoods and a Fish Boil

  1. The Duo Dishes

    I hope you’ve had an amazing time on your trip! All of your photos have been great to review. And how perfect that you had your own seafood boil, or rather boil over, while you were there!

  2. Barbara | Creative Culinary

    My sister lives in WI so I’ve heard of fish boils but have never attended one. Pretty dramatic fire photos…it’s been so dry there this summer I’m surprised a bit at seeing that! But then…I’m in fire weary CO.

    Nice wrapup!

  3. Courtney

    Thanks Barbara. The woods didn’t seem to dry as lately we have been getting some rain. The heat was intense during the boil. I was surprised it was pretty favorable.

  4. Chef and Steward

    It is awesome that you have been so innovative in the midst of challenges. That is what we do isn’t it? Simple find news ways to make things work and ends meet. One does not need a plane trip to go on vacation (unless you have lived in tiny remote places like we have). Great that you went on a road trip. Would love to do a stateside one. Always thought that the seafood boils must be bland and tasteless but I suppose, as you pointed out, with prime, local and fresh ingredients it must be tasty. So is the broth also consumed because lots of nutrients would be in there.

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