Thursday, August 20, 2015



Food is so interesting to me. Not just eating food, but, reading about food. I think you can learn much more about a culture, a country, a people, all by the food they eat, how they prepare it, and rituals around how they eat it.
The Amish Cookbook gives much more than than recipes, it gives you a glimpse into the ways of the Amish. The recipes and ingredients seem to be a reflection of their lifestyle - simple and nourishing. Although this book is labelled a cookbook there is so much more inside. Each recipe is accompanied by an article, written by Elizabeth, usually about the recipe. Actually, the articles would usually take off on different tangents, such as when she would typically make the dish, a bit of history on it, her memories around the dish, maybe the last time she made it and who was at her house. She often throws in tidbits about her personal life too. News about a grandchild being born, how an early frost froze her garden, about how she helped out a neighbour can some peaches. All written very blunt, simple, right to the point, without any complaints. Actually a refreshing change from the wordy, figurative, language of novels. Makes you think about how much time and effort is taken up by the frills in our modern lifestyle.
In addition to these personal pieces, there are small notes about Amish life and the events we might associate with them. There are notes about barn raising, rumspringa, the 'rules' around using modern technology like phones and cars, even a bit about the 'Dutch English' language many speak.
The recipes. Most are simple with only a few ingredients. Some, however, sound pretty odd to me. Coffee Soup anyone? It is pretty much a bowl of coffee with bread in it. There are a couple I might photocopy, especially the bread ones. It's tough finding an easy, great tasting bread recipe.
I don't know a whole lot about the Amish, but, after reading this book I feel much more informed. Knowing what people eat, how they feel about food, and some intimate stories about their personal lives is much easier to read and leaves me feeling like I know more about these people than I would if I had read a bland textbook on the subject.