A taste of Superior

HOUGHTON – There are plenty of places to eat and drink in the Copper Country, and most of them need no introduction, but for those who are not as familiar with the area there is a new book out that is a guide to notable eateries.

“Lake Superior Flavors,” written and photographed, respectively, by husband and wife team James Norton and Becca Dilley, tells the story of many different restaurants and eateries not only in the Copper Country but in areas surrounding Lake Superior, including Minnesota and Canada.

Norton said when he and his wife finished their previous book, “The Master Cheesemakers of Wisconsin,” they were thinking of what they could turn their attention to next and then the idea hit them.

“Lake Superior just called to us,” Norton said. “It’s such a beautiful terrain and unique body of water. I feel like I haven’t seen a lot written about food in the Lake Superior region.”

Writing the book became a 3-year process that Norton and his wife would pick up from time to time. There was research to do, scouting missions and talking to locals about popular places.

“There were a number of great places that we stumbled upon,” Norton said.

One of those places is The Jampot in Eagle Harbor. Norton was struck by the combination of spirituality and artisan food making.

As stated in the book by Father Basil, making jams is “routine and rote,” which allows the jam making to have a meditative quality.

“Your mind will wander,” Norton said. “That’s an opportunity to explore inner thoughts and spiritual thoughts.”

Norton also had some praise for the monks’ actual product.

“The abbey cake is fabulous,” he said. “And the thimbleberry jam we haven’t seen anywhere else. The place feels like a fairy tale. It’s really magnificent.”

But the book wasn’t just about finding good food, it was also about telling a story – a story about the people who run these businesses.

“We also wanted to find food that had an ethnic significance – if it tied into Finnish or Native culture,” Norton said. “We really wanted to do food, but not just a question of flavor, but also about history and culture and a way for people to tell the story of where they’re from.”

While a second book detailing more notable people, food and drink isn’t necessarily off the table, it’s not a top priority.

“More likely we’ll move on to a new subject,” Norton said. “We certainly could fill another book’s worth of stuff. If there’s a compelling reason to revisit it we could do it.”

But as it is, Norton feels optimistic about the state of food and drink around Lake Superior.

“People are increasingly connecting with these local foods that have great stories, doing things from scratch, doing things with a passion,” Norton said. “I think we’re going to see some really cool stuff in the next five to 10 years.”

“Lake Superior Flavors” in available now in bookstores and online.