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November 15, 1941 - Image 5

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1941-11-15

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'PERSPECTI VES

Page Five

PENNSYLFAWNISH DEICH
... by Richard Ludwig

THE CHINESE EPICURE, Li Li-
weng, once wrote a complaint
about the bottomless pits we
mortals have for stomachs-pits
that are like a valley or sea that can
never be filled. Had Li Liweng ever par-
taken of a home-cooked Pennsylvania
Dutch meal, he should have conceded
the fact that one can get very close in-
deed to filling these bottomless pits.
For two hundred years, Pennsylvania
Dutch farmers' wives have been masters
of the culinary arts; and these skills
have been carefully handed down, gen-
eration on end, with the result being a
school of regional cookery that is with-
out equal in all America. To the unin-
itiated visitor, the heavily-laden tables
evidence only tremendous quantity:
roasted, fried, boiled, and smoked meats
hot and cold; potatoes in four varieties
and vegetables in endless numbers;
cakes, pies, puddings, pickles-all and
more on one dinner menu. But quality
is even more apparent once he has
sampled the abundant array. The food
is plain and wholesome, seasoned with
a desire to preserve all the natural fla-
vor and carefully cooked for the smooth
texture that makes plain food superior.
But the cooking is not only simple and
delectable; it is, in many instances,
unique.
Thrifty Dutch farmers--who are
really not Dutch since the terrs 'Ditch'
comes from 'Deutsch meaning German
-have long considered wastefulness to
be Anful, Since every edible scrap of
meat must be used, resourceful house-
wives have learned, to add sage, spices,
and cornmeal or buckwheat flour to the
left-overs, cooking the mixture to the
consistency of mush and then pouripg
it into oblong pans which are stored in
a cool place until ready to use. Before
serving, it is cut into thin slices, fried
in hot fat, and then eaten with molasses
or butter. The dish is unknown in Ger-
many and is undoubtedly of Pennsyl-
vania Dutch origin. Large-scale Ameri-
can slaughtering houses, which have
adopted the formula, call their product
scrapple. The Pennsylvania Dutch pre-
fer to call it 'pannhas' or 'pon-haus.'
Rev. Anthony Wortman, a resident of
Reading and a native of Germany,
claims that "people at butchering time
wanted to let their neighbors in on the
joy of the occasion and send them some-
thing. This particular dish (pannhas)
was considered quite a delicacy and so
most worthy of presentation with the
phrase, 'Dat du wat foer de Pann haes,'
which is Low Germafi for: 'That you
may have something for the pan.'"
Other authorities claim that the word
'pon-hauts is used in Rhine regions to
describe meat particles which are pre-
pared in a pan like roast hare. But the
more common term for this Rhineland
dish is 'falscher Haas' (false rabbit), a
concoction entirely different from
'pannhas.' Regardless of the origin of
the term, 'pannhas' has become one of
the most widely known of the foods that
are peculiar to southeastern Pennsyl-
vania.
SOUSE is much easier to make. The
process is begun by washing and
scraping four large-sized pig's feet!
These are then placed in a kettle, cov-
ered with water, and boiled until the
meat falls from the bones. After the
meat is cooked, it is removed from the
kettle and about one pint of the liquor
in which the feet were cooked is addi!d.
There follows seasoning with salt and
pepper and adding vinegar to taste.
When the mixture has cooled, it is
placed in a mold to be chilled and served
later, garnished with horseradish. Pig's
feet jelly, as souse is sometimes called,
has somehow lost its popularity in re-
cent years though it is still seen on mar-
ket-house stalls where the farmers of
the neighborhood sell their wares twice
weekly. Pig's knuckles with sauerkraut

is a popular dish. More often we prepare
sauerkraut with stewed fresh pork,
cooked for more than an hour in the
same kettle and served with mashed
potatoes, rich with butter and milk. The
pig finds his way into another Dutch
specialty: 'schnitz un knepp.' In short,
the food is dried apples, fat pork, and
dough dumplings. 'Schnitz un knepp'
means apples and buttons, but the im-
plication is rather vague. The first step
in preparation is the assorting and
washing of dried apples, which are cov-
ered with water and allowed to soak
overnight. In the morning, about three
pounds of ham are placed in a kettle
and biled for three hours. The apples
and the water in which they have soaked
are added to the ham, and everything
is boiled for another hour. Later brown
sugar is added. Now the dumplings are
made by sifting together flour, salt, pep-
per, and baking powder and stirring in

cake in a crust. It is prepared by dilut-
ing molasses with water; mixing flour,
lard, butter, sugar, salt, and baking soda
together so as to form crumbs; and then
pouring the molasses mixture into pans
lined with pie crust and the crumbs
spread evenly on the top. Light-brown
in color and often intentionally heavy
when the molasses forms a succulent
paste between the cake and the crust,
shoofly pie is literally made, for 'dunk-
ing.' Apple butter, rich and dark and
smooth, is sometimes included in the
'seven sweets.' Also known as 'lotwar-
rick', its components are apples, cider,
sugar, cloves, and cinnamon, so mixed
as to form a soft paste that far surpasses
jelly as a side-dish, neither too sweet nor
too sour, ideal with toast and coffee at
breakfast.
THE 'SEVEN SOURS' are really more
more than seven. They could include

-OEM

/

Aft

new curds and mixing well. At the end
of the week, pour the curds into a heated
pan and let them simmer slowly, bring-
ing to a boil without stirring. Add a
pinch of salt, one cup of water, half a
pound of butter, one teaspoonful of bak-
ing soda, and two eggs. Boil for fifteen
minutes, and then pour into cups and
cool. The result-a cheese that is pale-
yellow, somewhat salty, exceptionally
smooth in texture but gummy. It re-
minds me of Carter's mucilage in almost
solid form.
Pennsylvania Dutch cookery is noted
particularly for food for special occa-
sions. The German equivalent for
Shrove. Tuesday-the day before the
first day of Lent, Ash Wednesday-is
Fastnacht, which the Pennsylvania
Dutch have reduced to Faasnacht.
Feasting before Lent is marked by an
emphasis on baked goods, and our spec-
ialty resembles a cruller or a fried cake
but is best described as a raised honey-
doughnut. The whole region is flooded
(almost literally) with these 'faasnacht
kuche.' There is the old custom that the
last person in the household to get out of
bed on Shrove Tuesday is labelled the,
'faasnacht.' The name entitles him, to
an extra large doughnut along with
much jovial ridicule. Funerals invari-
ably conclude with a huge feast at the
home of the deceased. Guests eat in
relays at overflowing dining-room tables
and gossip over dusty old photograph
albums and the faults and fine points of
the dear departed. Green Thursday is
only a local holiday. Custom demands
that the meal before Good Friday in-
clude something green and since the
dandelion is the earliest spring vege-
table, the lowly weed is elevated to a
place of importance. Dandelion eaten
on Green Thursday is supposed to keep
one healthy throughout the year. Christ-
mas brings with it a list of sundry treats.
Fruit cake is made weeks in advance, us-
ually topped with English walnuts and
,pineapple, rings and then wrapped in
brandy-soaked cloths. The cookies in-
clude crisp sand tarts sprinIled with
egg yolk and chopped nuts, mandel spit-
zen and lebkuchen, oatmeal cookies (ac-
tually made with oatmeal) and brown
hermits. Christmas dinner, like the
Thanksgiving feast, includes without
fail a goodly supply of dried corn and
delicious potato filling, mildly seasoned
with onion and parsley. The innate
thriftiness of the 'Dutch' housewife is
the cause for the quantities of dried
corn. The surplus ripened ears during
the harvest season are first shelled, the
kernels left to dry in the sun, and then
stored for use during the long winter.
When stewed, dried corn has an irre-
sistible nut-like flavor that becomes for
the 'Dutch' the invariable accompani-
ment to chicken and turkey.
TICKY BUNS, pretzels, and moschie
(or mojhy) apples cannot be passed
by. Much like cinnamon buns, sticky
buns are characterized by a thick, lus-
cious coating of molasses, brown sugar,
and butter which, when hardened, forms
a chewy crust that lends variety to an
otherwise commonplace morsel. Moschie
is corn syrup and sugar, boiled together.
The apples are dipped into the liquid,
speared individually with skewers, and
left to harden, forming a palatable de-
light for the younger children. The
humble pretzel was brought to America
by the early Germans. It is known to
have existed in Roman times, the Latin
'pretriola' meaning small reward. There
is considerable conjecture as to the
significance of its shape. Pretzels are
dough that is twisted to form two
wheels, one within the other (supposedly
an ancient heathen symbol), sprinkled
well with salt, and baked crisp and
brown. They have long been one of
Pennsylvania's most famous products
along 'with another German favorite-
(Continued on Page Eleven)

/
f

-{

'Desig by CLIFF GRAHAM

milk, shortening, and one well-beaten
egg. The batter that is formed is drop-
ped by spoonfuls into the hot liquid with
the ham and the apples. With the kettle
covered tightly, the mixture is allowed
to cook for fifteen minutes, during which
time the batter swells up into sticky,
doughy dumplings. When finished cook-
ing, it is served piping hot on one large
platter. -The result is tasty and filling
and a good cause for sodium bicarbonate.
A pleasant tradition among the Penn-
sylvania Dutch is the including of the
'seven sweets and seven sours' with any
important dinner. The sweets consist of
three or four jellies or preserves:-straw-
berry, peach, plum, quince, or grape, and
three pies or cakes: schnitz and shoofly
pie and cheese cake. Schnitz pie, as the
name implies, is made of dried apples.
Shoofly is a dish for the gods. In reality,
it is no pie at all, but a kind of spice

pickled red beets (always served cold),
spiced cucumbers, chowchow, pickled
cabbage, dill pickles, green tomato relish,
coleslaw, and cup cheese. Chowchow is
prepared from chopped-up vegetables,
spiced highly with vinegar, cloves,,and
cinnamon and is often preserved for use
during the winter. Coleslaw is merely
finely shredded cabbage; it is the fam-
ous 'Dutch' sour cream dressing that
makes it unique. Tiny fried bacon cubes,
referred to as 'gritzel-grotzels,' and a
dash of vinegar are added to the dress-
ing, giving a delightful tang to the cab-
bage. Cheese is a favorite food among
all Nordic nations, but again we have
added a variety of our own. Its recipe
is this: scald a pan of milk by placing
in an oven and baking the curd. Drain
off the water, put the curds in an earth-
en vessel, and keep at amoderate tem-
perature for one week, each day adding

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