Growing up in northern Wisconsin and living there until my mid twenties, the foods eaten were mostly locally grown -- and canned or frozen. There may have been some edible products shipped in from some warmer climate. However, it probably didn't get onto the table of my childhood home. It would have been unrecognizable as food and -- more than likely -- too expensive.
Chili is an example of one meal from my childhood. Nothing like any chili I've seen since. Mother started with ground hamburger, small amount of onion, lots of home canned tomato juice, kidney beans and elbow macaroni. A little chili powder. A little black pepper. With soda crackers, that's dinner. Essentially, it was chili soup.
A recent conversation with friends was about foods of our childhood. Essentially, we each ate "regional" foods or "ancestral" cooking. Most times it was based on locally available foods. Today, the foods we eat may have traveled a 1000 miles to get to our grocer's shelf or produce section.
Soon we were talking of individual food items. Time to relate that first artichoke. After university, my first job was in California. Introduction to the artichoke was at the home of a friend. The artichoke is boiled. Then pick off the leaves and dip in a seasoned mayonnaise. Then scrape the leaf across your teeth to extract the mayonnaise and the pulp on the leaf. Once all the leaves are gone, the heart of the artichoke is eaten after liberally applying the mayonnaise dip. Seemed to be a lot of effort for a little food.
Five decades later, no doubt an artichoke can be purchased at a grocery store in northern Wisconsin. Today after population movement and immigration, that northern grocery store will also have the ingredients for Asian cooking and Mexican dishes.
Although most foods are available in a grocer anywhere across the country, regional dishes and specialties remain. Fish boils are concentrated in northeastern Wisconsin. Pastys are quite popular in Upper Michigan. Booyah is another Wisconsin and Minnesota creation that can be found at community fund raising events.
Do you have memories of food from your childhood. Any regional or ancestral dishes that I might want to check out.
All this talk of food makes me think about the refrigerator -- just 15 feet away.