I think there are two basic categories of throwback foods. There are the ones that are sort of horrifying that folks like to make fun of (Ham and Bananas Hollandaise, anyone?) And then there are the foods that, when we eat them, snap us back to a particular time and place and make us feel like a kid again. Apple crisp falls into the latter category.
I don’t recall my mother making many apple crisps, although she made a lot of apple pies. What she did make though was baked apples, which she would sometimes top with streusel. As the apple skin dulled in the heat of the oven, the flavor of the apple itself intensified as its texture softened. What came out of the oven, all bubbling and buttery, was like a self-contained apple crisp, bright and mellow, soft and crunchy. A perfect little portion.