Mealtime is a community affair for the Amish. It’s tradition for families and community members to gather regularly around the dinner table, sharing wholesome meals and simple pleasures. This reclusive religious sect has preserved their dinnertime custom for hundreds of years, despite pressures to mold to mainstream America’s fast food nation.
The Amish maintain a hardworking, resourceful mantra that guides them through daily life, even when it comes to supper. Milking cows, raising chickens and pulling crops, Amish folk live off the land much like our pre-industrial era ancestors. There’s a lot to learn from their simple, yet sustainable lifestyle. To get in touch with your inner Amish, look below to find the top 4 traditions that distinguish Amish culture and cooking customs.
As green as it gets:
Going green has become a widespread fad, which often times is nothing more than a marketing ploy by many of today’s manufacturers. Upholding rural traditions, the Amish cherish their farmland and preserve their land by using manual labor practices that are safe for the environment. Most Amish families grow and prepare foods from their own soil and limit the use of electricity in every aspect of their lifestyle.
Honoring humility: The most radical distinction between Amish Mennonites and contemporary culture is their anti-individualist orientation. To maintain humility and reject pride is a deeply respected principle of this religious group. They shun the use of modern, labor-saving technologies that could lessen their dependence on each other. The importance of community is also apparent in the Amish kitchen: The entire family contributes to the meal, and children are taught how to prepare food and perform household chores at an early age.
Back to basics: Although the Amish don’t use any particularly unique ingredients in their cooking, traditional recipes demonstrate the value this religious group places on basic, wholesome foods. Friendship bread is a great example of an Amish delicacy: Meant to be shared amongst friends, this simple combination of milk, sugar and flower requires 27 days of patience. Half of the mixture is passed along to friends invited to start their own batch of friendship bread to share; the other half is prepared at home. After almost 30 days, the dough mixture is combined with vegetable oil, eggs, baking powder, cinnamon, vanilla, and chocolate chips or raisins. It’s poured in a greased pan and set in a medium-hot oven for 45 minutes. Just like friendships require nurturing, this traditional baked good is best when cooked with care.
Get on your knees and pray: Too often in today’s food service industry do we find meals prepared with artificial and processed ingredients. Although these pre-packaged meals offer convenience, they don’t provide the same nutritional worth as fresh foods. The wholesome goodness of farmland food is wholly appreciated by the Amish. Demonstrating thankfulness for your meal, friends and family is befitting of an authentic Amish dinner, and a cultural custom that invokes a deep gratitude in life’s blessings.
This article is presented by The Pennsylvania Culinary Institute. The Pennsylvania Culinary Institute offers Le Cordon Bleu culinary education classes and culinary training programs in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. To learn more about the class offerings, please visit http://www.Chefs.edu/Pittsburgh for more information. The Pennsylvania Culinary Institute does not guarantee employment or salary.