I must have been hungry when I decided to write about food today. Below you’ll find a list of my five favorite Amish foods, and why I enjoy them. Would any of these make your list?
Now, we can debate what makes a food “Amish” or not. That’s not really the point of this post though.
I’m using the term to describe foods I’ve eaten with Amish friends multiple times, or that they are otherwise associated with.
So, here is my culinary wish list when I visit the Amish. I don’t always get all of these every time I visit, but if I get one or two I’m pretty happy.
Hat tip: Reader Kendall for getting me thinking “food” on our suggestions post.
Five Favorite things I eat when visiting the Amish
I’m not picking a flavor here, but choosing pie as its own category. Pie is my favorite Amish-made dessert. I love just about every kind.
That’s not to say every pie I’ve had in Amish communities is equally commendable. In fact, I was pretty disappointed by a pie I picked up at one Lancaster County stand a few years ago.
A fruit pie, it was a bit too gelatinous, and the crust, the underrated bit that can make or break a pie, was pretty blah. Not like I imagine the crust of this random internet pie must taste:
But most of the time you will do well with pies the Amish bake and sell at stands and bakeries, so go with positive expectations.
If I had to choose, here are my three favorites:
- Black Raspberry
Not on the list: Shoofly pie. Probably the most famous of the “Amish” pies. I’m not a big fan, though I don’t mind it warmed up and with cold milk poured on top.
Thinking it just needed some tweaking, I tried a chocolate shoofly pie on my last trip to PA. Didn’t do much for me. Would anyone out there say they love shoofly pie?
Also–and I know they’re not the same sort of “pie”–but whoopie pies I usually avoid. I enjoy the first 2-3 bites. Then it gets too sweet.
2. Breakfast Casserole
If you are like me and feel the first meal is potentially be the best meal of the day, the breakfast casserole may be the ultimate choice if you only get to choose one breakfast food.
The best I’ve ever had may have been the one that Amish friends made when they were visiting my family in NC a few years ago.
Unless they had some supplies I’m forgetting, they used our regular English grocery ingredients to make it. So it’s not like they had access to all the farm-fresh wholesome this-and-that. They must have the magic touch.
I don’t even know exactly what went in there. Eggs, meat, cheese, something sweet (syrup?), whatever it was, it all came together in perfect harmony. One caveat: you really need to be as active as an Amish farmer to eat this every day.
3. Homemade Donuts
Are you detecting a pattern? You’re not seeing organic celery sticks or any other rabbit food on this list. These are all calorie bombs, which is why I always recommend pausing or postponing the diet if you’re planning to visit the Amish.
I memorably had homemade donuts a few years ago on my birthday, which happened to land on the birthday of an Amish friend. The family had gathered that day to fry donuts, which they did in a bit vat of oil. They stuffed them for good measure, with chocolate and creme filling.
A good fresh homemade donut is hard to beat. We’ve discussed it before, but I’m still not sure if donuts are a dessert or a breakfast food. Call it a hybrid?
4. Amish Peanut Butter
I’ve brought up this treat a number of times already. Amish serve it at the fellowship meal after church service. It’s a combination of peanut butter, marshmallow creme, and some other stuff.
It’s smooth and drippier than regular peanut butter, and also sweeter. I usually spread it on half a slice of bread, and on the other half spread another church staple, cheese spread. No particular reason, other than I like to mix.
You can also get commercially-produced “Amish-style” peanut butter in jars. You might expect me to say that the church stuff is clearly superior. But I’m not going to.
It probably has the edge, but I’ve had commercial Amish-style peanut butter that I thought was comparably good. It seems easier to find Amish peanut butter in stores in recent years.
5. Mountain Pies
I’ve had these in Lancaster County, just a couple of times. Despite its name, a mountain pie is actually not a dessert.
You have a long-handled metal contraption with a holder at one end. You stuff this with two pieces of bread and meat and cheese and whatever other sandwich fillings you prefer. Here’s what it looks like (there’s also a round version):
Close it, hold over the fire for a while, and a few minutes later you have a delicious hot sandwich.
I include it here not just because it tastes good, but for the experience. I love fires and sitting around in the evening in the backyard. It’s also one of the only “Amish” foods I actually participate in making.
Well, I think I need to go check the fridge now. And of course, I’m curious–what would you put on your list?
Image credits: Two pie crusts- kurmanphotos/flickr; Pie- benrogerswpg/flickr; breakfast casserole- stevendepolo/flickr; doughnuts- saxarocks/flickr; peanut butter- Jake & Amos; mountain pie makers- Campmore/Rome