Monday, November 30, 2009

The Inedible Pasty

For those of you who have never had the joy of spending time in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, let explain to you what a pasty is. It is a Cornish meat pie, consisting of meat (preferably chopped steak but often hamburger) potatoes, onions, and rutabaga in a durable yet flaky crust. Now, was with any type of food there is always a lot of creativity and variation so that there are chicken and vegetarian pasties that one can procure. But the basic has meat, potato, onion, and rutabaga, although the rutabaga is often optional. Yoopers, as the locals are called, eat their pasties with ketchup, which is fine for them but which I can't do. I eat mine dry (rarely because they are really dry to me) or with gravy, which is how they know I am an outsider. I do however, always choose them with rutabaga so that they know I sort of belong.
So that's a pasty. And they are delicious, stick-to-your-ribs, warm-you-up-on-a-cold-day, sort of filling comfort food. So when David Nathaniel and Chevy Orange offered to give me one or two or seven of them the other day, I was happy to oblige. Until, that is, they explained to me that they were inedible pasties and I shouldn't bother. See, pasties are like any food, everyone makes them differently, and always, always, ALWAYS, mom or grandma makes them the best. Usually, restaurants and chain places do the worst. There are, however, some good restaurants and the locals will always be able to tell you where to go to go a good pasty. When I lived there we always got the from the Women's Auxiliary in a small town. That's the best, because it's a bunch of moms and grandmas making them the way they are supposed to be made. And of course, they spoiled up. So we have sort of impossibly high standards. Still, I couldn't believe that the pasties that the kids were selling from a friendly local restaurant, which I have eaten at before and it was fine, would be inedible. So I ran my mouth off and said I would eat it. I believe that the actual phrase out of my mouth was "There is nothing that the right amount of gravy can't make edible."
Well, the inedible pasty is in the oven right now, and it's not going well. Not at all. I tool the roughly seventy pound brick out of my freezer this morning and placed it in the fridge to thaw. It was wrapped in tinfoil with just a little rip so I could see the crust. No big deal. About an hour before I wanted to eat I removed it from the fridge and set it on a pan to finish thawing. When I came back there was a very, very thin slick of grease starting to form. This was the grease that David Nathaniel and Chevy Orange were talking about. My, however, in my pride, declared that it was just some of the water thawing. Yeah, not so much. More on that later.
The first problem that I had was that the pasty had never been cooked in any way. Well, it seemed that the innards had been but the crust - not so much. And, in it's thawed and flawed state it took to a nasty habit of sticking to the tinfoil wrapping. I couldn't get it to release, so Mike-a-licious advised to bake it in the tinfoil for a bit and it would release. No. That did not work at all. When the timer went off fifteen minutes later and I took the cookie sheet out of the oven, what I found was a rapidly rising lake of extremely thin grease, partially cooked dough that was sticking and burning to the tinfoil, and delicious innards exposed for all the world to see. Uncool.
So I drained off the grease. That's the first time I have ever had to do that with a pasty, probably because that is not something that you should have to do with a pasty ever. Pasties are made by Finnish grandmas in a wood stove, and even though they might use a pound of lard in order to make the crust there should never, EVER be a situation where you have to drain off anything, okay? That is just wrong and scary and disgusting. But I did it, for my health. And I did something else. I abandoned the failing crust. I salvaged what I could and plopped it into a baking dish. Some of the crust went with, but most of it stayed with the fat and the tinfoil into the garbage can. Not good. At least most of the grease was gone. I figured out that most of the grease was coming from the crust, for at last check my innards were mostly grease free. So that's a good sign right?
I also tasted what there was to be tasted, and it wasn't bad. From the way David Nathaniel made it out to be it would be like a mixture of all the Harry Potter Jelly Bellies with a side of cardboard thrown in. Not so. It wasn't great, and it was a little odd as pasties go, but it wasn't bad. It certainly wasn't inedible. It is still a little greasy for certain, and will be better with gravy. But I think it's going to be alright. We will have to wait and see, there are still five minutes left on the timer.

* * *

So I am sitting here now and I can't get enough milk. It's cold and delicious and it's absolutely the right texture. I just can't get enough at this moment, which is bad because tomorrow there will be none left for breakfast. Anyway, I am done eating the inedible pasty. You have already figured out that it was not inedible then. That is true, it was certainly edible. But it was not very good.
Crust issues aside, two things sort of stick out at me. Poor quality meat and extreme saltiness. Now, I know that you are out there, sitting in your kitchen or den or coffee house and saying "Pfft...you said you were going to douse that thing in gravy, and I am sure that the cheap ass canned gravy that you were using was just loaded with salt. So there is no way that you can impartially or accurately judge the saltiness of the inedible pasty. And you are right. We will get back to that in a minute. First off, when did you become such an inedible pasty supporter? When did you become so rampantly devoted to the inedible pasty that you must defend it against my preceived slights? Huh? When did that take place? You should look in the mirror and see what is going on with that business. That being said, you are right. I did pour a bunch of salty gravy over the inedible pasty.
The reason that I know it is salty is because I taste tested it long before the gravy was ever added, and it was still the same. It was salty when it went into the oven, it was salty when it came out, and it was salty when it disappeared down my throat. That's just the way it is. In the end the inedible was certainly edible, although I wouldn't choose to eat it if I had the option, you know? I would never buy one again either. But at least I tried it. And at least I ate it. So it wasn't so inedible at all. I told you David Nathaniel. I told you Chevy Orange.

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