Eating Well in Pennsylvania Dutch Country
Traditional Pennsylvania Dutch cooking isn't for those watching calories. Family-style meals are multi-dish affairs, with fried chicken, ham, and roast beef, often accompanied by dried corn, buttered noodles, mashed potatoes, pepper cabbage, and "chowchow" (pickle relish). There are always traditional "sweet and sours," vegetable dishes made with a vinegar-and-sugar dressing. This is the way the Amish, who hate to throw things out, preserve leftover vegetables.
Make sure you save room for dessert, which is sure to include shoofly pie (made with molasses and brown sugar), snitz (dried apple) pie, and other kinds of pies, even for breakfast. Bake shops proudly point out that this region invented the hole in the doughnut by cutting out the center of fastnacht (a deep-fried potato pastry); in fact, the English word "dunk" comes from the Pennsylvania Dutch dunke. Other treats include buttery soft pretzels hot from the oven, fresh ice cream, and locally made birch beer.
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