A delicious slice of Shoofly Pie waits to be devoured. PHOTO COURTESY OF WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Whitney Walmer
Arts & Culture Editor

Whether you are from Lancaster County or so not, I am sure you are familiar with the Pennsylvania Dutch. If not, then the best place to start would be with the food. Coming from someone born and raised in Lancaster County, there are some foods that I have grown up loving and eating. While there are also some dishes that I still can’t wrap my head around, here are some foods that are worth trying at once. 

Whoopie Pies 

A Whoopie Pie is a handheld cake sandwich filled with varying frosting. Traditionally, they were made with a chocolate cookie-like outside piece and a vanilla butter cream or marshmallow center. Some flavors that can be found are pumpkin, oatmeal, mint, chocolate, shoofly, orange creamsicle and many other flavors to cure any sweet tooth. Deriving from New England, they are well known and made across Lancaster County, even with a different name. Depending on where you are from, this delicious dessert can also be known as a “gob.” Unfortunately, they can’t be found anywhere, but they can be found at farmer’s markets like Roots in Manheim, some bakeries, or small country stores or if you are wanting to explore what is called “Amish Country.” 

Cup Cheese  

Cup Cheese, exactly how it sounds, is a tub of sour, spreadable cheese known for its molasses-like consistency. As it is not the most nutritious cheese, with high cholesterol, saturated fat, and sodium, the cheese gets over half of its calories from the fat it is enjoyed by many. There are three different types, consisting of Sharp, Mild and Medium. Traditionally, it is made with unpasteurized milk and typically served on crackers with eggs, potatoes, soups or a variety of other ways, depending on what you like. While it has an acquired taste, it is not particularly my favorite. The Shenk’s brand is what I had purchased and, for the curious mind, can be found at any farmer’s market.  

Apple Butter  

Apple Butter is a smooth, spicy preserve perfect for enjoyment during the fall season, with flavor notes of cinnamon, clove, and sweetness of apple, and the allspice. While it is spreadable like butter, there is no dairy. The best way to describe it is it’s like apple sauce but with a jam like consistency. While uses for apple butter are endless in the realm of baked goods, it can also be used for spreading it on toast or with oatmeal. Even though apple butter can be easily found, it doesn’t always taste the same from one manufacturer to the next. 

Chow Chow 

Chow Chow is a sweet and sour combination of cauliflower, carrots, beans, onions, and other vegetables pickled in a relish popular. There are different ways that it can be prepared depending on what region and what native vegetable are accessible, for example in the south it is made with bell peppers, cabbage, and tomatoes. While it is unknown of what exactly chow chow means, according to Southern Living there is the theory it derives from “chou” which means cabbage. The relish can be used by itself as a snack, with soup and corn bread, or put onto hotdogs and hamburgers. I have known by family and friends to eat it with a fork straight from the jar. It can be found country stores and Mennonite markets. 

Pig Souse  

This dish is a loaf of meat made from the scraps that after used from butchering a pig with a gelatinous-like broth that sits on top. I was personally not a fan due to the texture, which is hard to explain, but I wouldn’t take my word for not trying it. It is traditionally consumed at room temperature in a sandwich or with crackers and can be bought by the pound at some butcher shops like Groff’s Meats in Elizabethtown. 

Shoofly Pie 

Shoofly Pie is a sweet and sticky Pennsylvania Dutch dessert that consists of mostly brown sugar and molasses with a flaky crust. When getting a pie, there are two different kinds, referred to as “wet bottom” and “dry bottom.” The difference between the two is the consistency, where the wet bottom has a delicate, molasses-based filling topping, the dry bottom has a soft, gingerbread cake texture. The origin dating back to the 1870s, the pie started off without a crust and, before reaching popularity in Lancaster culture today, it was considered as food for the poor due to its minimal ingredients. With its interesting name, there are different theories as to where it got the name, one being that the sticky molasses attracted flies and the other having to do with animal circus performers and horse named Shoofly that was loved by many and ended up with a brand signing for molasses. The pie can be served at room temperature or warmed up with whipped cream. 

Red Beet Eggs 

Everything can be pickled right? Red beet eggs, or pickled beet eggs, are a common snack or side that can be found at most grocery stores and delis. The reddish purple comes from the red beets that are pickled with hard-boiled eggs and spices to enhance the flavor. For some people, the best way to enjoy them is with a little salt or even with mayonnaise.