National Pennsylvania Day on July 20th recognizes the second state to join the Union. Once the home of the temporary capital of the United States in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is also known as the Keystone State. While the source of the nickname has been forgotten, the meaning is not lost. Bridge builders know leaving the vital keystone out of their structure would be folly, leading to collapse.
Pennsylvania played many roles that could be considered keystones. To begin with, its vote for independence split between eight delegates. Because of this, the split played a vital role in deciding to move toward independence and cementing the union of the newly formed country.
Throughout military operations, Pennsylvania provided forces to support the cause. In fact, Valley Forge tells the story of leadership and sacrifice of a young, developing army and citizenry.
We can eat our way through history, too! To understand Pennsylvania’s flavor profile. We start in Lancaster County, which is the heart of the Pennsylvania Dutch country. German and Swiss immigrants brought with them a wide range of hearty recipes that they incorporated into the fresh ingredients available in Pennsylvania countryside. From pork and sauerkraut, to pot pies and scrapple, these dishes filled the tables with the bounty of the land.
Much of more of the sweeter side of Pennsylvania, Dutch flavor finds its way into restaurants than the savory flavored foods. For example, the whoopie pie, shoofly, and funnel cake are tourist and fair favorites found everywhere. Unfortunately, the home-cooked seasoning of chicken corn chowder or stuffed cabbage rolls are often not found in a restaurant.
For the best and original Philly Cheesesteak, there is only one place to go. Philadelphia, of course! Made with thinly sliced beef rib eye, sauteed onions, peppers and mushrooms, melted cheese, on a long, crusty Italian roll. A hot dog vendor, Pat Olivieri, created the cheesesteak in the 1930s. One cab driver caught a whiff and soon after Olivieri opened a restaurant. It’s still there with competition across the street, a 24-hour a day rivalry for tourists and cheesesteak lovers to choose along with several others in the area.
Head on over to Hershey to pick up all variety of chocolate and adventure. Don’t stop there! Pennsylvania’s sweet tooth has deep roots. From Twizzlers to Peeps, confectioners love Pennsylvania. Candy isn’t the only sweet treat on the menu, though. In 1904, the banana split was invented in Latrobe, PA.
If your preference is more on the salty side, Pennsylvania has that covered, too. They’ve mastered soft and hard pretzels. They also have a terrific competition between four regional potato chip brands.
Full of regional festivals and local cuisine, Pennsylvania is also home to Kennett Square, otherwise known as the Mushroom Capital of the United States. Every year, in celebration, they shut down the town square for a mushroom festival. It’s no wonder Pennsylvanian mushrooms make it into dishes around the world, even into your very own house.
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Celebrate National Pennsylvania Day by exploring the historic, and hidden treasures of this enchanting state.
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