Centre County offers a particularly appropriate vantage point from which to view Pennsylvania in terms of indigenous cuisine. Located right in the center of the Commonwealth, and surrounded by rural towns and countryside, it has become an island of regional specialties that make use of a fantastic natural abundance in time-honored ways.
    The Pennsylvania State University draws sons and daughters of a vast number of the Commonwealth's citizenry into the area, bringing with them their own food preferences. International students create their own microcosms of diversity that are unmatched by any other geographic area of similar size in the state. A sophistication spurred by foreign travel, along with the entertainment demands of the university and local corporations, makes the cuisine of Central Pennsylvania well worth serious study and appreciation.
    William Penn's letter to the Free Society of Traders in 1683 described the native population—the Lenni Lenape, or "Original People," as they called themselves—as generous and social:

But in Liberality they excel, nothing is too good for their friend; give them a fine Gun, Coat or other thing, it may pass twenty hands, before it sticks; light of Heart, strong Affections, but soon spent; the most merry Creatures that live, Feast and Dance perpetually; they never have much, nor want much: Wealth circulateth like the Blood, all parts partake; and though none shall want what the other hath, yet exact Observers of Property. Some Kings have sold, others presented me with several parcels of land, the Pay or Presents I made them were not hoarded by the particular Owners. . . . We sweat and toil to live; their pleasure feeds them, I mean, their Hunting, Fishing and Fowling, and this Table is spread every where; they eat twice a day, Morning and Evening; their Seats and Table are the Ground.

   This inherently joyful approach toward food is alive today in Central Pennsylvania, as testified by the large number of outdoors experiences that are food related. Hunting season, fishing season, and game-bird season all bring significant numbers of people to the area to participate. The Lenni Lenape philosophy is still very much a part of the essential character of Central Pennsylvania, and put into practice by a great number of residents and visitors alike. Indeed, "their pleasure feeds them."


fall winter spring