Here is a picture from the Food Ways exhibit at the MSU. The exhibit feature cooking tools and gadgets from old time michigan cooks, and native americans, ranging from pottery, butter molds, squirrel gelatin molds, apple peelers, sausage stuffers, ceramic crocks and more.
There were a wide range of pictures and stories of some the cultural influences like this picture of the mascot from the Pasty Festival.
One of the highlights of the show was a rebuilt general store featuring a tour guide to answer questions. The store displays were packed with some of the same food brands that we still use today, like King Arthur Flour, and Jiffy Mix. The general store was also the post office, and sold clothes, horse riding equipment, sewing supplies, hardware, and just about everything.
For a food geeks like myself, the exhibit was great. On a local food perspective, what was interesting in the general store was the push for availability of imported foods like coffee, and spices for baking. Most of the food cooked was probably local like farm raised meats, and dairy, home gardening, hunted game and birds, fishing, and from local farms, but having a touch of cinnamon, or other spices was a luxury and I imagine many cooks enjoy the novelty. For myself, giving up spices would be hard to do if I were to cook 100% locally.
Immigrants often changed the culinary landscape by introducing their own dishes and either adapting recipes from what was available, growing what they could not find, or importing they needed ingredients. The climate of Michigan is similar to much of Europe, which aloud many immigrants to grow the foods that they were accustomed too. As a newbie to Michigan, I have to admit that I never had a pasty. But I have a plan to take a “Pasty World Tour,” of the UP next summer.
One things that stands out is that we as local Michigan foodies have the opportunity to both honor past food ways traditions, and to create some new ones of our own from our own food traditions that we brought here.