Memory and Food

KODAK Digital Still Camera

The memory of food is amazingly powerful and persistent.   You may not have tasted a certain food in decades, but there it sits, ready and able to be recalled.  And the desire exists to recreate the experience again.

When I was a little girl we lived in a working class neighborhood of old red brick housing, and many of the neighbors were  Germans and Poles.   We were poor as dirt and did not get a lot of treats, but payday was the special day and it always meant we would get some lovely thing to eat.  At least until my father drank up the rest of the pay.   There were wonderful bakeries that made delicious bread, crusty and chewy, that is what I visualize when I think of bread.   And then there were the pastries, something we might get after going to Mass.   Modern pastries may look like the old ones, but they taste nothing like the originals.   I saw a recipe in a cookbook from an old baker for Danish pastry and decided that I must have this one more time.

Real Danish involves making a yeast dough with eggs, butter and sugar and then layering in more butter, sort of like in puff pastry.  The cheese layer has ricotta and cream cheese, some sugar, but not too sweet.   So  this picture is from the first batch that I made.   It tasted like that way I remembered, with the goodness of butter and sugar, not artificial flavoring.   So I took this to my knitting group, because as much as I enjoyed eating these, I couldn’t eat an entire batch and still fit into my clothes ;-).   One of the older ladies in the group is from Austria, and this is the food memory she has of Danish as well.   She really raved about the taste and asked for the recipe, so that she can have the memory again too.   I wonder if the young people of today will crave the factory produced facsimile when they are old.

One thought on “Memory and Food”

  1. Thank you for bringing some to the knitting group. It was delicious.

    I don’t remember having any pastries or going to a bakery when I was growing up in Wichita, Kansas in the 1940s and 1950s. My mother loved to bake cookies and cakes and pies, and I remember them fondly – and the time I got sick because I ate too many raisins. It was a long time before I ate raisins again.

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