Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
As American as Shoofly Pie

As American as Shoofly Pie: The Foodlore and Fakelore of Pennsylvania Dutch Cuisine

Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 328
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    As American as Shoofly Pie
    Book Description:

    When visitors travel to Pennsylvania Dutch Country, they are encouraged to consume the local culture by way of "regional specialties" such as cream-filled whoopie pies and deep-fried fritters of every variety. Yet many of the dishes and confections visitors have come to expect from the region did not emerge from Pennsylvania Dutch culture but from expectations fabricated by local-color novels or the tourist industry. At the same time, other less celebrated (and rather more delicious) dishes, such as sauerkraut and stuffed pork stomach, have been enjoyed in Pennsylvania Dutch homes across various localities and economic strata for decades.

    Celebrated food historian and cookbook writer William Woys Weaver delves deeply into the history of Pennsylvania Dutch cuisine to sort fact from fiction in the foodlore of this culture. Through interviews with contemporary Pennsylvania Dutch cooks and extensive research into cookbooks and archives,As American as Shoofly Pieoffers a comprehensive and counterintuitive cultural history of Pennsylvania Dutch cuisine, its roots and regional characteristics, its communities and class divisions, and, above all, its evolution into a uniquely American style of cookery. Weaver traces the origins of Pennsylvania Dutch cuisine as far back as the first German settlements in America and follows them forward as New Dutch Cuisine continues to evolve and respond to contemporary food concerns. His detailed and affectionate chapters present a rich and diverse portrait of a living culinary practice-widely varied among different religious sects and localized communities, rich and poor, rural and urban-that complicates common notions of authenticity.

    Because there's no better way to understand food culture than to practice it,As American as Shoofly Pie's cultural history is accompanied by dozens of recipes, drawn from exacting research, kitchen-tested, and adapted to modern cooking conventions. From soup toSchnitz, these dishes lay the table with a multitude of regional tastes and stories.

    Hockt eich hie mit uns, un esst eich satt-Sit down with us and eat yourselves full!

    eISBN: 978-0-8122-0771-2
    Subjects: Sociology, American Studies

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. INTRODUCTION. Deep Fried Meets Dutchified: Food Mirrors the Culture
    (pp. 1-10)

    In the Pennsylvania Dutch language “Dutchified” (uffgedeitscht) is slang for anything that is gussied up to look, taste, or in some way made to appear Pennsylvania Dutch whether or not it really is. A lot of locals use it specifically in reference to an overdose of decorative statement—such as a diner covered with neon hex signs—yet it can apply equally to people who accept or “convert” to the culture, to a peculiar way of talking, and even to a style of cooking or to a genre of folk art. Dutchification, if I may create that noun, is purely...

  4. CHAPTER 1 It Began in Bethlehem
    (pp. 11-25)

    It was not my idea to drive to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, in blowing snow. On the other hand the date was close to Christmas, theChristkindlmarkt(Christmas fair) was in full swing, and the town was alive with flickering candles in nearly every window and glowing Moravian stars on every other porch. Since 1937 Bethlehem has been the self-declared Christmas City, and I had been invited by the Moravian Bookstore to appear for a book signing forPennsylvania Dutch Country Cooking. Since this is said to be the oldest bookstore in the country (it opened in 1742), the invitation was intriguing;...

  5. CHAPTER 2 The Hasenpfeffer Dutch: The Urban and Rural Elites
    (pp. 27-33)

    ʺHasenpfefferDutch” is an old euphemism for the Pennsylvania Dutch well-to-do, the merchants and professionals who lived in towns as well as theGrossbauer, the large landholders whose fine stone or brick farmhouses still dot the Pennsylvania landscape. Their money allowed them to mingle and intermarry with other social elites and to live a lifestyle much like that of other upper-class Americans. The term was once common parlance among certain Lancaster County circles, and I distinctly recall my grandfather mentioning it in connection with the J. H. Beers 1903Biographical Annals. People paid a fee to get into theAnnals,...

  6. CHAPTER 3 Our Dumpling Culture and the ʺSwabian Thirdʺ
    (pp. 35-41)

    The Swabians of Baden-Württemberg were attracted to Pennsylvania because they were for the most part Lutheran Protestants, unlike Catholic Bavarians who headed for New York or the Midwest, and they shared many cultural customs with other German-speaking groups who emigrated with them from the Rhineland. The American pretzel story was largely built on networks of Pennsylvania Dutch Swabians, such as the brothers Frederick and John Schwab, who set up bakeries in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, in 1860 and Shelby, Ohio, in 1866 and used the railroads to ship pretzels and bakery products back and forth. Indeed it was the Swabian-born bread baker...

  7. CHAPTER 4 Seimawe: Tourism Reshapes a Food Icon
    (pp. 42-47)

    In plain English the Pennsylvania Dutch wordSeimawemeans “sow’s stomach,” although this is commonly translated as “pig stomach.” This is one of the iconic dishes of Pennsylvania Dutch cuisine, and recipes vary greatly. In the Dutch Country west of the Susquehanna River the same thing is called “hogmaw.” Regionalisms aside, the distinction about the sex of the pig is important because boars (male pigs) were not traditionally eaten by the Pennsylvania Dutch; they were breeding animals, and once sexually mature their meat acquired a rank-tasting gaminess resulting from the production of androsterone and skatole. Male piglets were sent to...

  8. CHAPTER 5 The Buckwheat Dutch: ʺWe Ainʹt Townerʺ
    (pp. 49-66)

    The rural poor among the Pennsylvania Dutch have never been given much notice in regional literature, even though most of the practitioners of folk medicine (or powwow doctors, as they are called) came from this marginal stratum of society. The diet of this group, which was by no means homogeneous aside from the shared factor of poverty, is certainly the most interesting from an ethnographic standpoint because it was in every respect closest to the land, based on subsistence farming and a large dependence on foraged foods. These were the people who not long ago traveled door to door selling...

  9. CHAPTER 6 The Creation of the ʺAmish Tableʺ
    (pp. 67-85)

    The flowering of Amish food tourism during the 1930s and its gradual preemption of theneideitschculinary movement was not a spontaneous development. Certain local and international events did indeed set the stage for what transpired during that tumultuous decade, and yet for a good sixty years prior to it, a gradual convergence of new cultural currents helped shape the outcome in profound ways. One was the grassroots dialect revival following the Civil War, and the other was the birth of local-color fiction written for a national audience. While these literary developments ran counter to one another both in essential...

  10. CHAPTER 7 The Cabbage Curtain
    (pp. 87-95)

    Unlike the Berlin Wall or the fortified borders that once divided Europe, the “cabbage curtain” is invisible and crisscrosses the Pennsylvania landscape like the willy-nilly flight of a distelfink. Yet it is the sturdiest of borders because it defines who is and who is not Pennsylvania Dutch by virtue of one odoriferous, iconic dish: sauerkraut. Nothing in the repertoire of Pennsylvania Dutch cookery is as much a key to preserving traditional foods and foodways as fermented cabbage; this one preparation serves as the pointed end of a phalanx of traditional dishes that depend on sauerkraut for their perpetuation in everyday...

  11. CHAPTER 8 Waffle Palaces
    (pp. 97-107)

    There is an old Pennsylvania Dutch saying:weeche Waffle sin Dudelarewet ferlore, which means “soft waffles are love’s labor lost.” In the Pennsylvania Dutch universe, there is probably nothing worse than a soft waffle, a bedroom euphemism for male dysfunction. So ingrained are waffles in our culture that less-than-perfect specimens are ready objects of contempt.

    The German Reformed minister Peter Seibert Davis (1828–1892) was one of the first to remark on the prevalence of chicken and waffles among the Pennsylvania Dutch, and by Dutch I am speaking here of the “church” Dutch, not the plain sects. While living in...

  12. CHAPTER 9 Consider the Groundhog
    (pp. 109-118)

    There was a time not too long ago when eating groundhog was fairly common throughout rural America, and a reasonable argument could be made that it is probably a lot healthier as food than hamburgers, French fries, pizza, or even Chicken McNuggets. For certain groundhog has better flavor. Groundhog dinners were once dependable money makers for local fund-raising projects—one of the most popular in Pennsylvania was held by the Liberty Fire Company in Friedensburg—but they are now history. Just the same there are still a few holdouts, such as the Boyertown Rod and Gun Club, which gathers every...

  13. CHAPTER 10 The Amish Table Goes Dutch
    (pp. 119-147)

    There are several Amish tables. One represents the sum total of what real Amish families eat on any given day of the week. Aside from such traditional foods as scrapple and sauerkraut, it is here that we find plenty of Bisquick, Crisco, instant pistachio pudding, Jell-O, Dream Whip, Velveeta, and dishes such as Rice Krispies pie, Chickenetti, Yumzetta, and more pizzas than one can count. Amish kids would eat pizza every day if their mothers would let them; pizza is often one of the culinary fixtures of the biweekly social gatherings of each Amish congregation. Deacon Beiler’s wife explained it...

  14. CHAPTER 11 The Kutztown Folk Festival
    (pp. 149-167)

    The origin of the Kutztown Folk Festival is fairly straightforward, and I was fortunate to interview one of its cofounders, Dr. Don Yoder, who revealed much about the way in which Pennsylvania Dutch food was brought into that event. In a sense the festival was born out of necessity because in 1949 Professors Alfred L. Shoemaker, J. William Frey, and Don Yoder joined forces to establish the Pennsylvania Dutch Folklore Center at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. In order to fulfill the educational mandate of their newly formed center, they realized that they would need a venue to...

  15. CHAPTER 12 New Dutch Cuisine and the Greening of the Amish
    (pp. 169-177)

    TheNeideitsche Kichedid not begin as a revolution as nouvelle cuisine did in France. There was no overnight change; its advocates were scattered and tentative; and no one individual gave voice and form to this new style of cookery. H. L. Mencken, Bland Johaneson, and J. George Frederick attempted to launch it with the Society of Pennsylvania German Gastronomes (the dubious choice of the term “German” was Mencken’s). Yet it did not begin in earnest until the 1930s with the dialect revival and the rehabilitation of all things Pennsylvania Dutch. Almost to the letter, this new style emanated from...

  16. Recipes
    (pp. 178-275)

    The recipes in this section are arranged alphabetically according to their English names. Beginning on page 278 there is a list of recipes divided into categories, such as soups or poverty dishes, so that you will have a better sense of where they best belong when assembling a menu. Otherwise, key recipes may be found in the table of contents. In addition to English, recipe titles are rendered in Pennsylfaanisch in order that non-Dutch speakers can better familiarize themselves with our culinary language. Beyond that, most recipes are accompanied by introductory material that will hopefully add a fuller understanding of...

  17. Recipes by Category
    (pp. 276-277)
  18. Glossary of Pennsylvania Dutch Food Terms
    (pp. 278-284)
  19. Notes
    (pp. 285-290)
  20. Bibliography
    (pp. 291-304)
  21. Index
    (pp. 305-316)
  22. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 317-318)