An Unforgettable Amish Dinner

by Don Meyer, Ph.D. | Aug 01, 2015

“The fondest memories are made when gathered around the table.”

Since my family is Pennsylvania Dutch with the names of Meyer, Gibble, Crouse and Longenecker, I have always felt a kind of kinship with the Amish. When Evie and I drive the back roads of Lancaster County and see them working in the fields with horse-drawn equipment or driving along the roads in their buggies, or even when we stop at one of their local fruit and vegetable stands, I just sort of feel a certain connection with them. 

But it is one thing to observe them from a distance and another thing altogether to sit down in an Amish kitchen and interact one-on-one over a delicious Amish dinner. Our UVF administrative team and our spouses recently had that unforgettable privilege at a beautiful Amish farm not far from Strasburg, Pennsylvania. 

We hardly knew what to expect as we turned off the country road into a straight, gravel lane about half a mile long. As we neared the well-kept white farmhouse with numerous farm buildings, two silos and several red barns, we couldn’t help but see the exquisite petunias and begonias and Shasta daisies in pots and beautiful beds. 

“Come on in,” we heard Anna call to us as we approached the front door. As soon as we introduced ourselves to Anna, and her son and daughter-in-law, we also met about 10 of her grandchildren from toddler age to early teens. Their warm smiles and kind welcome made us immediately feel right at home.
The nine of us sat at a rectangular table beautifully set with candles and lovely China and silverware. The smells of a delicious meal already filled the room. Anna invited me to say grace and as I prayed I really felt as though we were with some of God’s wonderful people. 

How could I possibly describe the meal? First we were served warm, homemade bread with homemade butter and homemade jam. We all probably could have stopped right there with the bread as our entire meal but it was followed by zucchini casserole, coleslaw, refrigerator pickles, roast beef and gravy and meat loaf. The mashed potatoes were made from potatoes dug from the garden that morning and the green beans also came fresh from that same garden that same morning. For dessert, we had pecan and cherry pie and creamy vanilla ice cream. 

The food was absolutely delicious, but even more memorable was the wonderful conversation we had around the table. Daniel, Anna’s oldest son and the one who runs the farm, shared with us about crops and cattle and farm machinery. For me, it reminded me of the farmhouse where I was raised — where as a family we had some of the very same conversations. 

I wish you could have heard Anna’s precious grandchildren, standing there in the kitchen, singing hymns for us which they had selected. And then to see their little faces as we were invited to sing "Amazing Grace" for them, concluding with our choice to sing the "Doxology." 

After buying some homemade goodies outside on the porch, we followed as Daniel showed us the barn, the Holstein cows, and farm equipment. I particularly noticed the leather bridles and harnesses for the horses and mules. 

The day could not have been more beautiful as Anna walked with us under the grape arbor and then to the edge of the vegetable garden, which was lined with all kinds of annual and perennial flowers. She even showed us how she operated the clothes line for drying clothes.

Sadly, all too quickly the time came for us to leave these dear new friends. And though Amish customs and culture may be different than ours, we discovered the many wonderful things we have in common and the treasure of a friendship that we will always cherish in our hearts. 

Think about it.

Dr. Don Meyer is President of 
University of Valley Forge, Phoenixville, Pa. 
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