Today, what I remember most about my long-ago time in Germany near the Alps and of my childhood in Peoria isn’t so much the mountains and or the subtle beauty of the plains of north-central Illinois. What I remember are the treats that always appeared at our house during the holidays. Every year, family friends from Germany always made sure to send my family holiday care packages of torrone, the nougat-honey-and-almond candy, and white and milk chocolates, and more candies.For myself, I was actually born near Munich and lived there until I was about three. I've always had a love of the treats that I associated with Germany as well as the UK, where I've also spent a lot of time. Things like Kinder Eggs, which are actually illegal here in the US because parents apparently can't be trusted to not give them to their kids before they are old enough not to choke on them. Or Smarties, the chocolate kind, not the powdery tablet kind. These were and are treasured treats of sweetness and nostalgia.
This also applies to savory things, like pretzels. I'm really enjoying the current pretzel roll trend in bread right now, because whenever I see them, I think of this:
Yup, that's me, with a pretzel bigger than my head.
I also get just as much comfort from the deliciousness of svickova as I do from the fact that it's such a classic Czech dish that reminds me of that part of my heritage. Which is why whenever I'm in Boerne I go to Little Gretel's, a Czech restaurant that happens to have svickova on the menu:
The portions are not as outrageous as a Czech pub, but it's still tasty.
I have very few of my own memories from that time, most of them are mixed up with home movies and photographs. Again, it's not unlike Jeni's experience:
When I tell people about these new flavors I’ve been referring to them as “memories of memories.” All of my memories are of magical places I see in the old slide photos of my brief time near the Alps: the biergarten with smiling, rosy-cheeked men in feathered hats, castles and fountains, the garden of our landlord where I would follow him around.The holiday season always brings back these kinds of thoughts, I think, because it's all about traditions carried on over the years. There are lots of special little things that we all do to harken back to times in our own personal history, and food is one of most potent ways we do that. Something to do with senses and the memory, I suppose.
If I had my own gourmet ice creamery, I would love to play around with these flavors like Jeni does. I do what I can in my baking, like the caraway shortbread cookies I experimented with at the Thanksgiving potluck this year. And spoiler alert for my Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap recipe coming next week, I was greatly inspired by poppy seed kolache, another Czech favorite of mine.
What are your favorite flavor "memories of memories"? And for more inspiration, go to Woolen Diversions.