The Food of Friendship

Sometimes it seems that the Amish simply can’t get together without food being a part of the equation. The kitchen is really the center of the Amish home, not just a place to eat. Here the family comes together to read, play games, and chat with friends who drop in. When you stop by to visit an Amish friend, you’ll normally end up in the kitchen. It is cozy and warm in the winter, and the smell of bread baking permeates the entire house.

I visit an Amish friend about once a week. Ever since our friendship began when I was working on a book years ago, a "snack" has been part of the evening visit. He likes to plan ahead what we will be having. There is usually something sweet to eat, some candy or some cookies. Sometimes he puts a jar of peanut butter on the table. We might apply this to graham crackers, or to apples. There is almost always some fruit, perhaps an apple, a pear, or even a kiwi fruit, something I introduced him to years ago. Occasionally in the summer, we have a special treat of fresh picked strawberries (nothing like ‘em) and vanilla ice cream. There are often pretzels, because you need something salty when you have sweets. And we have something to drink...

Our drinks run the gamut. For sheer ease, we use instant iced tea but drink it hot. In the winter, fresh apple cider with cinnamon or hot chocolate are popular. Sometimes homemade root beer is on the menu, and every so often we make a float with some ice cream. He grows mint tea out back, so a real summer treat is the sweetened cold mint tea, which we can enjoy while sitting on the front porch watching the fireflies in the cornfield across the road.

It’s not that we couldn’t just sit and talk for a couple hours without a snack, but it is something we look forward to sharing. Occasionally, I bring a contribution. (I tried introducing salsa and tortilla chips, but the spicy snack did not win him over.) At other times, we get to eat some leftover snitz pie from church, or some cookies left by a neighbor. It is always something of a surprise. We sometimes discuss the ingredients and whether we are eating healthy food, but that’s why the fruit is there! There is just something about the eating and interaction and chatter that goes together.

I heard recently on television a suggestion for helping to bring the modern American family closer together --- try to have the entire family eat together once a week. Once a week! With our busy lives, that can sometimes be a challenge and, when we do, who knows what the conversation may be?

Finally, here is some useful advice from an Amish publication concerning planting your garden...

First, plant 5 rows of peas: preparedness, promptness, perseverance, politeness, and prayer. Next to them, plant 3 rows of squash: squash gossip, squash criticism, squash indifference. No garden is complete without some turnips: Turn up with a smile. Turn up with determination. Finally, how about 5 rows of lettuce? Let us be faithful. Let us be unselfish. Let us be loyal. Let us be truthful. Let us love one another.

Amish Country News Publisher's Message by Brad Igou (2002)


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