What is a ‘Cudighi’ and Why Do Michigan’s Yoopers Love It So Much?
I will start this off by asking that you please don't make fun of me because I'm just trying to be an informed Michigander and learn a little something new. Apart from not knowing how to pronounce this food staple of the Upper Peninsula, I'm also not exactly sure what it even is. Of course I'm familiar with and enjoy the other U.P. classic, the pasty, but I'm not quite sure what a 'Cudighi' is. If you are also unfamiliar with this U.P. favorite, let's learn together!
How Do You Pronounce It?
First things first, how does one even say the word 'Cudighi'? The food has origins in Italy but I'm not sure if that helps clear up its pronunciation or adds to the confusion. Even my coworkers here in Kalamazoo each took a stab at it and we still couldn't settle on one right answer. After consulting numerous Yooper YouTube videos it seems the proper pronunciation of Cudighi is: Could-dig-hee.
Now that that's out of the way...what even is it?
Origins of Cudighi
Cudighi is a style of sausage similar to an Italian sausage, which has a mix of sweet and spicy flavors thanks to spices like nutmeg, allspice, and cinnamon. The word 'cudighi' refers to the sausage itself, but it can also mean a style of sandwich that is popular among Yoopers. The tourism website Travel Marquette states that while the food originated in northern Italy it is now mainly served in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, specifically within Marquette County. The website adds that, "The sandwich and its signature sausage were initially sold in northern Michigan by Italian immigrants in 1936, who called it 'Gudighi'."
Where to Buy Cudighi
As far as I know there are only two restaurants where you can find cudighi in Kalamazoo: Comensoli's and Bell's. Comensoli's Italian bistro and bar on West Main serves this traditional sausage with pasta and on a cudighi pizza, but it is not available in sandwich form. Bell's serves a more traditional cudighi-style smash burger with tomato jam and mozzarella on a brioche bun.
However, you'll find cudighi a'plenty in the U.P. with restaurants like Vango's Pizza and Lawry's in Marquette and Ralph's Italian Deli in Ishpeming all serving this U.P. staple. That's as good a reason for a road trip as any! I'll be sure to add cudighi to my Michigan summer bucketlist this year.
Have you ever had traditional U.P. cudighi?