Sampling a Taste of the Past Along the PA Trails of History
Table at Pennsbury Manor.
PHMC Pennsbury Manor

by Fred J. Lauver

This article originally appeared in Pennsylvania Heritage Magazine
Volume XXXVIII, Number 3 - Summer 2012

One of the best ways to experience the Keystone State's history and heritage is to travel the Pennsylvania Trails of History®, a network of two dozen exciting historic sites and museums administered by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC), the Commonwealth's official history agency. PHMC has organized its popular destinations into four main trails - Military History, Historic Homes, Industrial Heritage, and Rural Farm and Village History. For 2012 PHMC adopted "The Land of Penn and Plenty: Bringing History to the Table" as its annual theme, and many museums and historic sites along the Trails are celebrating Pennsylvania's rich (and delectable) culinary traditions throughout the year with special offerings such as open hearth cooking demonstrations.

Visitors should consult each respective Web site or telephone the local site or museum directly to determine hours of operation, seasonal schedule, and special events and activities to time an arrival for the best possible experience. More information about these and other PHMC destinations is available on the Pennsylvania Trails of History website.

The Pennsylvania Trail of History Guide series, books published for each historic site and museum by PHMC and Stackpole Books, Mechanicsburg, brim with historic images, stunning contemporary photographs, themed histories, chronologies, and detailed information. Regional, ethnic, and traditional recipes were collected from Commission staff and volunteers for the Pennsylvania Trail of History Cookbook, published in 2004 by PHMC and Stackpole to accompany the series of guidebooks. Recipes in this feature originally appeared in this cookbook.

"It is really thrilling to be able to eat one's way across a state, especially one as long across and as historically rich as Pennsylvania," wrote internationally noted food historian William Woys Weaver, of Devon, Chester County, in his foreword to the Pennsylvania Trail of History Cookbook. "I cannot think of another place in America where we can taste the seventeenth-century flavors of a Swedish log cabin, the baroque delights of grand country houses, the steaming simplicity of coal miners' kitchens, the fare of oil fields, cloisters, or such politically important sites as Washington's Crossing or Bushy Run Battlefield." Weaver also observed, "No other state in America can claim the rich variety of regional dishes that have evolved in Pennsylvania; more than 100 foods are distinctive to the greater Philadelphia region alone, and that takes in only one small part of the state."

Readers are not only encouraged to explore the Pennsylvania Trails of History but to also sample the unusual fare at home.

Fred J. Lauver is former assistant editor of and a past contributor to Pennsylvania Heritage.

The editor thanks Amy Killpatrick Fox of PHMC's Bureau of Historic Sites and Museums for her assistance in obtaining dates and times of special events and activities planned by the historic sites and museums along the Pennsylvania Trails of History.

Discover recipes from and information about various PA Trails of history sites by clicking the links in the list or map below.
Pages in this section are written by Fred J. Lauver.