Contact: Tom Nemacheck, tom@UPtravel.com, 800-562-7134
Date: March 30, 2012 UP20302-v4 Release: IMMEDIATE
MICHIGAN’S UPPER PENINSULA SIDES WITH BRITISH WORKING CLASS TO OPPOSE GREAT BRITAIN’S PROPOSED 20 PERCENT PASTY TAX
Humble Cornish Pie Has Been a Staple in Both Regions for Centuries
IRON MOUNTAIN, Mich. – When Great Britain’s Finance Minister George Osborne announced last week his intentions to close a loophole and impose a 20 percent sales tax on fresh-baked takeaway items such as pies, sausage rolls and pasties (pronounced PASS-tees), he did not anticipate this week’s surging media backlash. British tabloids, CNN and Internet news blogs are voicing outrage on the “pasty tax,” portraying it as a new attack on the working class. Thousands of miles away, people across Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (U.P.) are siding with the British who are opposing the tax on pasties, the humble meat-and-vegetable pies with Cornwall, England roots.
The reason for the U.P. joining the front lines in England’s never-ending class wars is simple. This 16,452 square-mile region once renowned worldwide for its copper and iron mines is now heralded for its four-season wilderness, outdoors recreation, centuries of history … and pasties. “We want the British people to know that we stand strong with them in opposing the pasty tax,” said Tom Nemacheck, executive director of the Upper Peninsula Travel and Recreation Association (UPTRA). “We would never allow a 20 percent sales tax on our hot pasties in the U.P. It is an affront to the hard-working people of Great Britain and of here.”
Much of the uproar in Great Britain centers on the tax applying only to hot pasties and questioning how the government will regulate the levy if Parliament approves the tax, effective Oct. 1. According to the proposed law, cold pasties will be exempt from taxation. But Yoopers, the people of Michigan’s U.P., would never sell a cold pasty at the hundreds of pasty shops across the region. They know that a similar tax in the U.P. would devastate pasty sales and they empathize with British bakers trying to make a living in an economy already wrought with high food prices.
The U.P.’s loyalty to the British pasty dates back to the Copper and Iron Rushes of the mid-1800s when thousands of men and their families immigrated from Cornwall, England and other British and European mining regions to make their fortunes in Michigan’s U.P. (The region once supplied most of the world’s copper.) Cornish miners brought with them their pasty recipe to the boomtowns that sprung up along the coast of Lake Superior.
Those original Cornish pasties were made from a piecrust wrapped around seasoned sliced potatoes, rutabagas or turnips, onions, carrots and boneless cubed beef, then baked. They proved to be hearty meals for miners that were easily carried into the mines and reheated hours later over a headlamp candle. Over the years, other immigrants to the U.P. (Finns and Swedes among them) modified the Cornish recipe to meet their ethnic tastes. Today, U.P. pasties differ from the original Cornish version by using diced rather than sliced vegetables. Many U.P. pasty shops’ menu boards also offer modern versions that include ground pork, ground beef, lean ground beef, chicken, vegetarian and breakfast food options. Nemacheck said there is a pasty in the U.P. to satiate any person’s hunger.
Does the U.P. plan to stage a pasty revolt, tossing hot pasties into the cold waters of Copper Harbor on Lake Superior, reminiscent of the 1773 Tea Party in Boston Harbor? Not yet. But Michigan and U.S. legislators should take heed. Their constituents in the U.P. are serious about keeping the pasty affordable for all classes of people on both sides of the Atlantic.
For more information about pasties, events and lodgings in the Upper Peninsula, visit www.UPtravel.com or contact 800-562-7134 for a free, printed travel planner.
The people of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (U.P.) are joining the British people in voicing their opposition to a 20 percent sales tax on pasties proposed by Great Britain’s Finance Officer George Osborne. The levy introduced last week is creating media uproar in Britain. Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, renowned in the U.S. for its versions of the Cornish pasty, knows the impact that a similar tax would have on their pasties’ sales and is hoping Parliament will not make the tax effective Oct. 1. Your coverage of the story will not only enlighten but also entertain your audience when you share this meat-and-vegetable pie’s role in the British class wars and its ongoing, and defended, place in Michigan’s U.P. economy. Below is also a recipe for the U.P. Cornish pasty. If I, or Tom Nemacheck, can be of further assistance in sharing the story, please contact us.
CORNISH PASTY RECIPE
1-1/3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup lard
1/3 cup cold water
Sift together flour and salt.
Cut in lard until the size of small peas.
Mix with pastry blender until dough is well blended. Divide into 2 equal parts. Roll into 9-inch circle.
1/2 cup each turnips and potatoes
1 medium onion (diced)
2 tablespoons minced parsley, fresh or dried
2 small carrots cubed or thinly sliced (optional)
1 pound pasty meat, or boneless beef (cubed)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon butter
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F.
Mix filling ingredients. Equally divide into rolled crust. Top with butter.
Lift and fold top half of crust over filling. Seal, folding and crimping into rope edge along top of pasty. Slit each pasty about 1/2 inch in several places. Place on cookie sheet several inches apart and bake for 1 hour.
Most U.P. cooks cherish their favorite recipes, and ingredients vary to include their favorite vegetable. Old timers insist on turnips, the vegetable considered as important to natives as it was to Lil’ Abner of comic strip fame.
Accompaniments vary, with some preferring pasties topped with a medium beef gravy. Others prefer catsup, pickle relish or chutney, or to eat them plain while the crust is still warm and flaky.
Source: Upper Peninsula Travel and Recreation Association