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Participants at Key Ingredients Michigan Foodways community roundtable meeting in Whitehall, Nov. 28, 2006

Curious about Michigan foodways? How does culture impact what we eat -- and vice versa?

Peruse these pages for a glimpse into Michigan food culture. This is not an exhaustive overview; it's something to whet your appetite.

Plan on visiting one of the state's many food festivals (compiled by Dave Liske). Explore links to foodways resources and academic references. Quiz yourself on Michigan foodways trivia. Take a virtual culinary tour using the Michigan foodways map -- and learn where to sample these gastronomic delights. Share your own recipes and foodways experiences. And, discuss it all on our message board.

From Michigan Food and Foodways*:

Just how is it that particular foods become associated with particular geographic locations -- communities, regions, sections of the country, states? What is the relationship between foodways and locales? By speaking of "foodways" rather than "cuisine," we place more emphasis on those restaurants and cooks who focus on tradition rather than innovation. This is the culinary aspect of everyday culture. We also mean by "foodways" not only food, but the entire complex of ideas and behaviors centered on its preparation, serving, and consumption.

Regional foodways are the product of gradual development; passing food fads at a particular place and time are not regional foodways. Regional foodways are accepted by the people in that region as the natural way of food. Often regional foodways have heavy symbolic meaning and are important in marking off the social boundaries between my group of people who live (and eat) here and that other group of people who live (and eat) there.

There is nothing that all Michiganders eat in common and that only they eat. Rather, Michigan foods are those of the many communities -- ethnic, occupational , local -- that constitute Michigan. What's more, state boundaries never conform to cultural boundaries. People don't stop eating Upper Peninsula pasties at the Wisconsin border. And, no matter how closely we may associate the pasty with the U.P., it is really a part of the subculture of the mining region that extends into parts of Wisconsin and Minnesota.

* from "Michigan Food and Foodways," by W.G. Lockwood. (1999). In 1999 Michigan Folklife Annual. Michigan State University, East Lansing, Mich.

 

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