by Claire Hadida
Re-PLACE-ing Philadelphia is building an expanded archive of cultural memory that includes multiple histories, re-place-ing the established with new narratives and understandings. Notes from invited artists and community members consider place via the street, sound, food, trees, rivers, and other portals.
In a call for "food note" submissions, Re-PLACE-ing Philadelphia asked, "When you think of Philly, do particular memories of smells associated with food come to mind?" Here is Claire Hadida's response.
I remember going to Center City (which we always called "downtown" like in the Petula Clark song) with my parents in the 1960's. During December, we often visited the Christmas light show at John Wanamaker's and the Enchanted Christmas Village at Lit Brothers. Walking down Market Street we were enticed by the smell of roasting chestnuts sold by street vendors. They warmed our hands while we peeled them and they had a unique smoky, slightly burned taste and a creamy, firm texture and richness which is hard to find today. Unfortunately, the American Chestnut tree has been nearly wiped out by a blight, and the Asian and European varieties don't have the same texture and flavor. And oven roasting them at home cannot replace the unique sights, sounds, and smells of 1960's Philadelphia.
Submit your food note here.