Gearing up for the holiday dedicated to eating, I started thinking of where I get my food. I’d like to say I buy only organic, cruelty-free food from local farms but that would be a lie. We are beginning to do a little of that — some local vegetables during growing season, cage-free organic eggs when Clare or I purchase them, cruelty-free (until they are slaughtered) chickens when Clare is around to eat it, organic grass feed meat when Clare is around. We do make sure to buy non-farmed fish, though — but I suppose that is because I’m the only one who buys fish.
When we lived in Pittsburgh we shopped in “The Strip” most Saturdays. It was such a fun experience — getting cheese from the cheese store, meat from the butcher, bread from the bakery, pasta from the macaroni shop, coffee from the coffee store (you get the picture) that I’ve often thought longingly of those days. A couple of years ago Dean told me about an Amish market up-county that he heard had good food. We visited one Saturday and have been back many times since. It is a little like our Pittsburgh shopping experience — except we can stay warm in the winter.
The Lancaster County Dutch Market — or as we call it “The Amish Market” is housed in a strip mall in Germantown, Maryland and is usually open Thursday through Saturday each week. Within the “market” are about a dozen vendors that cover all food groups (meats, dairy, grains, fruits and vegetables, pretzels and candy). They also sell furniture and flowers. In addition you can eat breakfast or lunch (maybe dinner too) at either King’s Barbecue Pit where you order your food (including rotisserie rabbit) and take it home or sit at one of the booths to enjoy it there or the Dutch Family Restaurant — a sit-down eatery in the center of the market. We’ve not eaten at either, but it is on our to-do list. We have eaten at the Lapp’s Pretzels, however. I am willing to bet you have never had a pretzel as good as the pretzels Lapp’s sells.
Each vendor is family-run — so the person that helps you and takes your money is Amish — men and women are all in traditional dress which makes sense because they are Amish. I don’t know the story, but I think that the people that work in the market must travel down from Lancaster County Wednesday evenings and go back Saturday evenings. I don’t have any idea where they stay during their work week or how they travel the 100 or so miles from Lancaster, PA to Germantown, MD. Some of the Amish at the market seem young enough to still be in school — and I doubt they go to school in Montgomery County — so either they don’t stay in school as long as non-Amish usually do or they just look younger than non-Amish.
While it is not exactly like our Pittsburgh shopping experience, it is definitely an experience and we plan on purchasing our meats from there from now on. Their vegetables may be home-grown in the growing season, but unless they have greenhouses and grow summer fruit all winter long, I think they must import lots of their produce from afar. Still, I’d prefer buying fruit and vegetables from them than the local grocery store for some reason, at least during the non-growing season.