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.
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 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?