As my belly rumbles, I check the clock to find it’s almost dinnertime. I’m feeling nostalgic and in the mood for some good old-fashioned comfort food. Since I’m Pennsylvania Dutch (actually Deutsch or of German heritage), comfort food for me is a fastnacht, ham and string beans, a Lebanon bologna sandwich or yummy whoopie pies washed down with homemade birch beer soda. There are so many great local delicacies that it’s hard to pick a favorite but I’ve managed to compile a list of favorite PA Dutch foods I think everyone should try when in Pennsylvania’s Americana Region.
Shoo Fly Pie – One forkful of this molasses-y goodness and you’ll be hooked. It’s sweet, but not too sweet. The crumb topping melts in your mouth and the buttery, flaky crust adds a nice texture contrast to the dense filling. Shoofly pies are readily available in bakeries and grocery stores across the region. Wixon’s Bakery is known for their shoofly pies and will ship their famous confections to you.
Lettuce with hot bacon dressing – this is unlike any other salad out there. The bacon dressing is served warm atop the pile of iceberg lettuce, endive, spinach or dandelion greens. Pick up a jar of it at a local farmers market or roadside stand. Or try this recipe and make your own. PA Dutch Hot Bacon Dressing.
Chow-chow – nope, I’m not talking about the dog! This relish of pickled veggies includes green beans, lima beans, corn, peppers, onions and more. It’s tart and tangy and a good side dish with any PA Dutch meal. Try it at the Deitsch Eck Restaurant in Lenhartsville. Chances are you’ll find all my favorite PA Dutch foods served here.
Chicken pot pie – Mom always made chicken pot pie when I was growing up. The name is misleading because it’s not a pie in a crust like you might imagine. Rather, it’s a stew of wide egg noodles with pieces of chicken and carrots, celery, and onion in a thick broth.
Apple Butter – This sweet delight starts with local apples that are cooked long and slow with water or apple cider until the natural sugars break down and caramelize. Cinnamon is mixed in along with other spices. We PA Dutch folks like to eat it over cottage cheese. You’re bound to find some for sale at the Leesport Farmers Market or the West Reading Farmers Market.
So how did I do? Have I tempted you to try any of my favorite PA Dutch foods? Have you tried any or all of these? Did any of your favorites make my list?