Settling the great pasty condiment debate

Now that it’s summer again and hordes of trolls (the live below the bridge kind, not the hate-spewing online kind) are headed to the U.P. on vacation, I thought I would perform a public service by helping them avoid a major food faux pas.

Namely whether to put ketchup or gravy on your pasty. (If you don’t know what a pasty is then why are you reading this far?)

As a Yooper and a ketchup fan, I can assure you that if you want to fit in with the locals and not look more like a tourist than you already do, then use ketchup. (Not catsup. Ketchup. There’s a difference. I don’t know what it is, but there is one.)

But if you want to look like the kind of downstate-living, slack-jaw vacation goober who wears socks with sandals and makes fun of the way Yoopers talk, then, by all means, use gravy.

Just know that if you do, all the Yoopers at the pasty stand are going to be edging their kin away from you, whispering “Stay away from the trolls, kids. What they got might be catchin’.”

Oh, it’s definitely catching. Downstate Michigan is practically lousy with people who don’t know how to properly dress a pasty.

A few months ago, for instance, I took a poll on my website about it, and despite broad and obvious hints from yours truly that respondents should choose ketchup, the majority still did not. The results were thus: Thirty-eight percent favored gravy, 34 percent favored ketchup, 27 percent inexplicably went with “eat them plain,” and 1 percent went with, ick, sour cream.

This result puzzled me at first until I realized that most of the people who took the poll live downstate, where they think Michigan lefts are the height of traffic efficiency, the Detroit Lions are a professional football team, the Ambassador Bridge is impressive (that’s not impressive — the Mackinac Bridge is impressive) and regular toast is superior to Trenary Toast, which I assure you is not the case.

So of course these cretins picked gravy over ketchup, which, by the way, is the pasty condiment of choice for God, Yoopers, and anyone with functioning taste buds.

The only thing I can say for gravy is it’s a better second choice for a topping if the ketchup runs out than the alternatives, such as going plain or using butter, barbecue sauce, hot sauce or sour cream.

I’m personally baffled why anyone would eat a pasty plain but one reader insisted he does so because “the miners ate them without gravy and without silverware, that’s why they are shaped that way. Just pick ’em up and enjoy!”

That’s a fair point, but miners also died of black lung and falling rocks, too. You gonna copy that, too?

As for the person who said sour cream — which is a far greater pasty-related crime than being a gravy-slurper — I’m sorry but we can never be friends.

Please take your tourist dollars elsewhere this year.


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