State of Superior Cuisine

State of Superior Cuisine: Yooper Food

Yooper Food

Yooper Food

The Upper Peninsula of Michigan

The Upper Peninsula of Michigan is the northern of the two major land masses that make up the State of Michigan. The Upper Peninsula of Michigan is commonly referred to, by those who live there, as simply "the Upper Peninsula", "the U.P.", or "Upper Michigan." You might also hear people call it the land "Above the Bridge". It is sometimes called "Northern Michigan" by non-Michiganders, but to people within the state, that term more commonly refers to the northern half of the Lower Peninsula. To explain the location of the U.P. to those whose familiarity the state is restricted to having seen it on a map, it might be referred to as the "finger," rather than the "glove," which is more of a reference to the Lower Peninsula's glove-like appearance than to the Upper Peninsula's resemblance to a finger.

Lake Superior separates the Upper Peninsula from Minnesota and Canada on the north. The southern boundary of the U.P. is Lake Michigan, which is the principle body of water separating the two peninsulas, and Lake Huron, which divides the peninsulas. At its closest point, the two peninsulas are five miles apart, separated by the Mackinac Straits, and connected only by the Mackinac Bridge, which was built in 1957. To the east, St. Mary's River separates the Upper Peninsula from Canada. The western boundary is the State of Wisconsin.

More than geography separates Michigan's two peninsulas. Often referred to as "Yoopers," much of the population of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan more closely identifies with Wisconsin than with its own Lower Peninsula.

Today, four western U.P. counties (Dickinson, Gogebic, Iron, and Menominee) are in the Central Time Zone, while the rest of Michigan is in the Eastern Time Zone, the result of a refusal, on the part of the residents of these counties, to be in a different time zone than Wisconsin. Before the matter was resolved, there was a period during the late 1960s and early 1970s when state and federal agencies within these counties were on one time while nearly everyone else was on another, as individuals, businesses, and even local schools and governments refused to adjust their clocks to the Eastern Time Zone.

When I was growing up in the Upper Peninsula's Menominee County, it was rare to find a local who rooted for a Michigan sports team. The Green Bay Packers and the Milwaukee Braves were our teams, not the Detroit Lions or the Detroit Tigers.

But then, I lived outside of the small town of Wallace, in Menominee County, very near the Wisconsin border.

People from the Lower Peninsula are sometimes referred to as "trolls," a reference to being from "under the bridge" that separates the two peninsulas.

It is (or at least was) legal for hunters to hunt on land owned by the state in Michigan. In response to the annual influx of trolls during hunting season, it was standard practice for locals to post NO HUNTING, NO TRESPASSING signs throughout the state, regardless of ownership and including state lands. The locals knew where they could hunt and where they couldn't, while the trolls were left confused and frustrated.

There is no love lost between the two peninsulas. However, since the population centers of Michigan are in its Lower Peninsula, the trolls get to decide things for the rest of the state.

I am now living in Northern Maine, where a similar situation exists between the northern and southern halves of the state. In fact, there are occasional, but short-lived, movements to split Maine into two states, along northern-southern boundaries.



Given the choice of remaining part of the State of Michigan or becoming part of the State of Wisconsin, most Yoopers would opt for Wisconsin, but given a third choice of forming their own state, that option would receive popular support.

There have been intermittent (and sometimes tongue-in-cheek) calls for the Upper Peninsula to secede from the State of Michigan. Secessionists propose making the peninsula into the State of Superior, named after Lake Superior, which comprises its northern boundary.

But then, this web site has nothing do to with any of this.

As its name implies, the State of Superior Cuisine site is about food - Yooper food. I won't be restricting the menu to those foods, such as upper peninsula pasties, that can be found only in the Upper Peninsula, but on a wider range of recipes to include those that might also be found in Wisconsin or Minnesota. I will do my best to bar the doors to anything that trolls might eat.

To begin with, I'll concentrate on older recipes but I would very much enjoy it if you would send me your favorite U.P. recipes. If used, I'll happily attribute them to yourself, your mom, your grandmother, aunt, or whoever it was that you'd like the recipe to memorialize. In fact, if there's a story behind the recipe, please include that as well.

Those of you in the northwestern or eastern part of the Upper Peninsula may have regional recipes that were not a part of my tradition, growing up in the flatlands of Menominee County. I'd like to hear from you, as well.

If you own a restaurant or cafe in the Upper Peninsula, and particularly if you specialize in Yooper cuisine, please consider sending me your recipes. In return, I'll advertise your business on these pages, including but not limited to a graphic ad as well as a link to your business web site. Of course, your recipe will be properly attributed.

This site will likely start out small, but grow greatly over the next few years, especially if you send me your Upper Peninsula recipes.

-- Ken Anderson, a Yooper expatriate now living in Northern Maine.


Please send recipes to

Include information for attribution,
as well as any story that might be connected with this recipe.

Last Modified: Monday, 28 November, 2005

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