27 September 2007

Road Food: Pasties


I love business travel. I enjoy checking into a hotel room, unpacking my things, which always include a good book, bubble bath and the other acouterments of pampering, and a local newspaper.

My husband says he enjoys it, too.

“There are no demands on your time,” he says. “At home, you feel as if you should be doing something constructive.”

Once I am checked into a hotel room, I am usually not interested in leaving. I relax almost immediately and want to get further acclimated to my temporary environment. But I do leave, mainly to search for a local deli. I seldom eat alone in restaurants, and I do not like take-out food.

In Marquette, Mich., there are some very nice locally owned sandwich shops and delis. But the other night, strapped for time and weary from a long drive, I opted for a local supermarket, expecting to find the usual selection of rotisserie chicken, cole slaw, potato salad and baked beans.

Instead - being in Yooper country - I found pasties, those meat-and-potato stuffed pastry pockets that Cornish workers took into the iron mines with them. They are a staple here, where the mines have long dominated the local economy.

My husband, having Cornish genes, loves them. I find them a bit too carb laden. But after more than three hours of driving on an empty stomach, a pasty looked pretty darned good.

(By the way, that’s a soft A, not a long one. Paa-stee, not pay-stee. The two uses are not interchangeable, either.)

I bought a pasty, adding some cheese and nuts, and enjoying an apple (courtesy of a friend at the Italian market back home) for dessert.

As pasties go, it was not the best or the worst I’ve eaten. Doesn’t really matter. I was ravenous, and it was hearty and satisfying.

What I was really tasting here was a night of freedom. I missed my husband, but had a long phone conversation with my sister-in-law, a warm bubble bath and a good book to sooteh my road weariness.

When you travel, what do you do? Eat out? Splurge? Choose takeout? I’m curious. My new job will involve more travel, and I may just broaden my horizons at mealtime, too.

I'll be on the road again Monday.

17 comments:

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

I enjoy an evening as you describe by myself and even with my husband when we travel. But I also came to enjoy a meal in a restaurant by myself from time to time.

Mimi said...

I used to not mind eating out alone. I guess it depends on the restaurant.

I guess I'm so eccentric that I enjoy being alone in my room. Peaceful moments are all too rare!

mensch71 said...

I love pasties! I'm from Michigan, so they are a regular part of my menu. Hope you are having fun in Marquette - what a lovely time of year to be there. The leaves are all colorful and the air is crisp.

I travel a lot for work and I always check out Chowhound for recommendations before I leave. I try to have a list of a couple of places to try while I'm there and then ask for ideas from my local contacts.

Mimi said...

Mensch71, I forgot about Chowhound - thanks for the reminder!

Marquette is at its best this time of year!

Lydia said...

When I travelled for business, it was always to interesting places (I worked for a study abroad program for 20 years). Sometimes I craved the solitude of my hotel room just as you do -- a good book, and no obligations. Other times I was glad to explore, with or without colleagues, and I would search for wonderful street food, pub food, or quirky cafes. Basically I don't enjoy eating alone in restaurants, but when I would be in a place I thought I might never be again, I'd force myself to go out.

Mimi said...

What a great job that must have been, Lydia! I do like to explore, too, if I do not know the city. I lived in Marquette for a year before moving to Madison, Wis., so I know the city.

A sidenote: I have not spent more than a few hours there in 10 years. On my last overnight visit, I foiund the town a bit down on its luck, with many businesses closed and buildings empty. This time, I was delighted to find just the opposite, with the beautiful old waterfront developed and the behemoth ore dock still in place. I love that city!

Erika W. said...

Traveling is definitely splurge time for me. I dare myself to try something new-even if it is on a familiar menu at a chain restaurant. Something about traveling makes me feel like I'm spreading my wings and trying something new for the first time- and I've had many great firsts in meals to go with it. I'd have never tried grits had it not been for traveling, and now they are a staple in my kitchen.

Terri said...

Sounds like your new job is going very well and you seem to enjoy the travel. That's great.
And I also love pasties! And I love the way you "settle" into your new environment...much the same as I do when I travel.

Mimi said...

Love your new avatar, Erika!

I do not mind doing most things alone, but eating alone, unless it's a very casual place, somehow gets to me. I guess because I associate food with socializing. So while I like to splurge, too, I am probably not as adventurous as I could be. I do agree with you, Erika, about trying new things when i travel. Somehow that pasty the other night called out to me.

Terri, I have been know to bring candles with me, even wine glasses and a small bottle. I have learned to bring a small travel pillow, as I prefer flat pillows to those big hotel pillows that give me a still neck.

Mimi said...

LOL. That should be stiff neck, although since it is hard to move, I suppose it could be still...

Judy said...

I used to travel with my job and I would love the evenings where I could curl up with a good book after a nice bubble bath too!! I don't really feel comfortable eating in a big restaurant alone so I would usually find something small and quaint or do the deli take out. I always looked forward to my time alone with no stress. If I went to another office I usually had friends so they would show me the sights and we would have dinner. One of my memorable trips was to Alabama where I found a wonderful hiking trail after work one night. I had a wonderful walk before dinner in my room with something from a deli. It was a delightful evening. Have fun and explore. Oh and I have my recipe for the Pork Roast w/ Calvados. I will type it up and email it to you.

Mimi said...

Thanks, Judy!

I like the idea of getting in some walking or hiking while on the road. The last time I visited Marquette on business, I did get a nice walk in. If you like old buildings and houses and hills, this is your city!

Although I like travel, my favorite business trip was with my husband. I had a three-day meeting in Myrtle Beach, SC, and he came along, rented a car and explored while I was in meetings and workshops. Then at night, he took me to the cool places he'd found during the day. Once the conference was over, we drove up the coast in North Carolina. We ate "Calabash" seafood and enjoyed a variety of interesting restaurants.

Fiona said...

It's ages since I ate a decent pasty and that one looks pretty good to me.

I usually get bakery type food when I'm on the move, hot meat pies, pastries, sandwiches.

I don't care to eat alone in restaurants either, I much prefer the solitude of my own hotel room if I have to eat away from home alone.

Freida said...

I haven't had a real pasty since, hmmm, 1992? I was in the U.P., studying mines and rock formations in the snow. Brrr. Nothing better when you're freezing than a blazing hot bread pocket full of meat!

Violette said...

I like to order in from a local restaurant. Then while I'm eating in the room I read all the hotel materials to find out what it offers. I also make all the phone calls for the next day.

Mimi said...

Fi, I've had good pasties, really good ones, from a shop in my home town. But it is a rare treat for me.

Frieda, if I recall, 1992 was a cold one!

Violette, that's what I like to do, too!

Jann said...

I enjoy the time alone~not having to fight for the tv controller-it always seems strange to eat alone....and what fun to stroll around the area checking out all the local sights.I have done this for the past 30 years, it is just a way of life for me.I know someday this may all cease~I will be fighting for that tv controller again!