The food that takes you home


No matter how old you get or how long you've lived away from home, you will probably get a little homesick from time to time. This is especially true if you have moved far away from whatever location it is that you call home. I haven't lived in the town in which I was raised since I graduated from high school, but I can be instantly transported back there through a few simple foods. One of those foods is a soup that reminds me of my grandmother's kitchen.

The soup is called knephla soup and it is a staple of the town in which I was raised, a small farming community in North Dakota. Knephla soup is a creamy potato and dumpling soup with a punch of strong chicken broth. You might wonder why you would have dumplings and potatoes in the same soup, but it's easy to understand. The Germans who settled in the upper Midwest of the US believe that if one starch is good, two must be better.

Not only does the soup remind me of the farmhouse on the windswept prairie where I spent my summers, it also reminds me of my hometown. Every Friday afternoon during my high school years, I would eat the knephla soup at the Prairie Winds Cafe, one of only two restaurants in the entire city. The soup was thick and rich, containing copious amounts of cream, butter, potatoes, and dumplings.

When I moved away from home to start college, I was excited to learn more about the world and investigate new cuisines and knephla soup fell by the wayside as I tried Thai, Afghan, Argentinian and other foods. But even though I enjoyed learning about new foods, every once in a while I felt a twinge of homesickness for my grandmother's kitchen.

Now that the farmhouse has been demolished, I can no longer visit it; I can only conjure happy memories of the time spent there. Eating the foods that my grandmother prepared is one way I can be instantly transported back to the cozy house with its worn Formica table, eagerly anticipating a bowl of piping hot, comforting soup on a cold winter's day.

What foods remind you of home or take you back you to a place dear to your heart?


  • ShoreGirl  on  8/23/2015 at 7:02 PM

    What? No recipe??

  • KarinaFrancis  on  8/24/2015 at 3:27 AM

    My grandmother's strudel. I thought the recipe was lost for over 20 years but managed to get it from my mum. I hate to admit that I got teary (like a cooking show contestant) when I had my first mouthful

  • SilverSage  on  8/24/2015 at 7:02 AM

    My mother's idea of comfort food was Campbell's Cream of Tomato Soup and a grilled cheese sandwich made from Kraft American Slices. My grandmother was a school cafeteria lady, and her home cooking tasted just like the cafeteria. Nothing makes me want to go back there. I am glad that I found wonderful cookbooks to take me away from there. Thank you Julia Child!

  • mfto  on  8/24/2015 at 7:57 AM

    I spent the first six years of life on a farm in Oklahoma but my mother had learned to cook in Tennessee. Our nearby town had only a basics type grocery so that plus what grew in mother's garden was what we ate. After we moved to a larger town in another state, mother's cooking changed but not her fried chicken. We were all sad when she became health conscious and no more fried chicken . But I have delicious memories.

  • pitterpat4  on  8/26/2015 at 7:40 AM

    Pound cake, pecan pie and hoecakes remind me of my Granny. She was always in the kitchen. Cold, crispy oatmeal cookies remind me of Grandmother. The only food I remember liking at her house was the oatmeal cookies she kept stored in the freezer for visiting grandchildren. My mother made great biscuits, fried chicken and egg custard pie. Once she was no longer cooking for a family, she lost her biscuit-making mojo.

  • Rinshin  on  8/26/2015 at 10:21 AM

    Three different areas had a major impact on my taste buds. Japan, Pennsylvania small towns in Amish communities near Lancaster, and Okinawa (food is different from Japan). In PA, I had my first exposure to sauerkraut, sausages, pickled beets with eggs and my fav, Lancaster style chicken botpie. This is soup with rolled dumplings. So good when weather cools. I looked lot of places for this recipe and finally found one.

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