I live 500 miles from the town where I grew up. The hamlet of Coopersburg (and our house was 4 miles from the hamlet!) is in Southeast Pennsylvania, just 10 miles from the Delaware River which separates Pennsylvania from New Jersey. Yes, Kentuckians, I am a Damn Yankee!
There are two things I return to PA for: visits with family and the FOOD.
This is Pennsylvania Dutch country, and I am descended from Pennsylvania Dutch people. Dutch does not mean from Holland (they are Dutch) but from Germany (they are Deutsch). As Americans often do, the “Deutsche” was Americanized to Dutch, and so all my ancestors were German. (which accounts for my introverted stoic nature, but that’s another story)
There are three German foods that I ALWAYS have when returning to PA – if at all possible:
SCRAPPLE — SHOOFLY PIE — FUNNY CAKE PIE
Scrapple is top on my list. If you don’t know what Scrapple is, think a poor man’s sausage. You take all the parts of a pig that no one would normally eat, cook it and grind it up real fine, add cornmeal to stretch it, and spices (mostly pepper). Pour it into a square mold and let it congeal. It is one of those foods that you don’t want to see made, or you would never eat it.
But slice it thin, fry it til crispy in a little oil, smother with ketchup and VOILA! A taste treat that only Pennsylvania Dutch people would appreciate. (My sister reminded me that true Penna. Dutch style is to smother it in Applebutter… she’s right, but I AM more a fan of the ketchup approach.)
So I ate half a pound myself in two meals (well, I think my Mom had one piece). My annual quota for Scrapple has been fulfilled.
Mom also made a Shoofly Pie while I was visiting. Without going into the details, it is a wet-bottom cake-like pastry in a pie shell that uses lots of molasses for the wet bottom, plus crumbs on top. If you don’t like molasses, you won’t like Shoofly Pie. But all Pennsylvania Dutchers were raised with molasses, and so we love it.
When I close my eyes and eat Scrapple and Shoofly Pie, it brings back memories of being ten years old, wearing Keds and ankle socks, and having the whole summer free to play outside all day. Mud pies, treehouses and forts, climbing trees, and running through the orchard. Ah, give me Scrapple every day just to conjure up those memories.