Throughout the course of our lives, there are many things that spark memories from the past. It might be a song that you loved to listen to as a child or younger adult; the second you hear it; you remember the words and envision something you were doing at the exact moment the tune was playing all those years ago. Certain smells might remind you of a specific person or place that you haven’t seen in a long time. One thing we can all relate to as humans is the nostalgia that comes from the use of our senses.
Seeking the memories that certain foods bring us is no different. Whatever our culture, certain culinary traditions and recipes survive for generations because of the way those meals make us feel. There is a sense of pride we take in keeping the practices of our ancestors alive. It is most special that in continuing their traditions, we are reminded of a time when they were here with us.
Here in Berks County, there are many traditional cultural recipes that trace back over several generations. I am of Pennsylvania German descent, so my sense of food nostalgia is triggered with meals such as chicken pot pie, shoo-fly pie, and so many more. These foods remind me of my grandparents who played such an influential role in my life. The recipes we follow often come from their grandparents, or even their great-grandparents. This is common ground we all share. Food nostalgia brings us together; those of us who are living today, as well as family and friends no longer with us. That is something truly incredible!
Amber Vroman, Berks History Center Curator