While the origins of the cudighi can be traced back to Northern Italy, the sandwich itself has taken on a life of its own in Marquette County.
Consisting of a ground pork patty on a homemade bun, cudighi has become staple of restaurants and delis in the area. Ralph’s Italian Deli in Ishpeming has been perfecting a special homemade recipe for the past 50 years, turning the family business into a respected source for the local favorite.
“My dad had a little white vending truck, and he sold cudighis on two different corners of Ishpeming,” said Bruno Gervasi, co–owner of Ralph’s Italian Deli. “He used to go through three or four hundred cudighis a night. It’s all my dad’s recipe – homemade bread – if you don’t have the homemade bread, you don’t have a homemade cudighi.”
The cudighi sensation isn’t limited to the Upper Peninsula. People from all over the world have come to Ishpeming to experience the unique dish.
“We have a lot of tourists,” said Gervasi, “a lot of tourists come through here, especially in the summer and the holidays, and we find that people are buying eight, ten, and twelve cudighis at a time when they come to town. They just take bags full of them out of here.”
Everyone who makes cudighi has their own special recipe. No two kitchens make the exact same sandwich. The combination of variety and tradition helps preserve the cudighi’s mysterious roots.