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Ok. I'm resurrecting this thread and turning it serious because my folks live in Lancaster and I've eaten a couple of really nice places up that way with them.

Most recently and most memorably was over the fourth of July weekend at the Bistro at the Netherlands Inn and Spa. We had a lovely dinner with cocktails and several glasses of wine, including salad and appetizers for three.

The food was excellent. The space was lovely. The service was flawless. We had a lovely time and the restaurant easily rivalled far more expensive establishments in the Washington, DC area. I would happily go back there anytime.

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Arguably the best potato chips in America are available in the area between Lancaster and Reading: "Original Good's." There are two Good's potato chips, both fried in lard-actually there are 11 or 12 potato chip brands that are fried in lard and a local "chain" of about four markets called Darrenkamps's carried all of them Gibble's has a brand which is very similar to Original Good's where the chips are curled at the edges. They are NOT called Gibble's; rather something like Kurly Krisp or a name which is similar. Very, very difficult to find; still Original Good's which are as obscure as any are better. This is the link to their website and, yes, you really can order them over the internet and have them delivered. Don't mess with the bbq or the salt 'n vinegar. Just get the original plain, fried in lard crispy, curly chips which are absolutely awesome.

http://www.goodschips.com/

Shoofly Pie: the best shoofly pie that I've had (and I've had a LOT) is the wet bottom shoofly pie baked in house at the Darrenkamp's on route 222 just south of Lancaster.

For restaurants my wife and I accidentally found a steak house called the Log Cabin which in a real log cabin and remarkably good. We would go back. I am not a fan of any of the Plain and Fancy, Good and Plenty, etc. places. Over the years I've been to far too many of them and, with the possible exception several years ago of Groff's Farm, would not go back to any of them unless I wanted to really binge.

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I grew up just over the border in Berks County and have spent a great deal of time in Lancaster. For a true Amish experience, you have to reserve a dinner for the seven sweets and sours at the home of an Amish family. More and more are no longer serving, as the State of PA health department has come down hard on the in-home meal concept, but some families still provide the meals. Many are also B and B's. One just has to remember that the food of the Amish is plain and simple few if any spices and ingredients that are easily found - comfort food like no other. The Log Cabin has been for many years a standard for family celebrations for us. As far as potato chips are concerned, I like Good's, but nothing compares to Dieffenbach's batches of seconds - made with the potatoes with a higher sugar content and only sold from the factory a few days each week. I have fond memories of holding the big potato chip can under the conveyor belt as the chips fell in as they were cooked. Sublime... Dieffenbach's is located on Rt. 419 north of Womelsdorf, PA (can't be found on every map...), but I believe now sells some chips in local stores. Finally, for anyone traveling in that area on a Friday, go to the Green Dragon farmer's market in Ephrata - by 10 in the morning you can have home made soft pretzels, funnel cakes, birch beer soda (and sasparilla if you are lucky), peorgies, sweet bologna, shoo fly pie, pig's maw (if you have to ask you don't want it) and (at least in the past) some great fried rice made by Hmong refugees.

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My favorite restaurant in Lancaster is The Loft. My family and I have always enjoyed ourselves there. Great Manhattan cocktails, Chimay Bleue ale, shad roe in season, prime beef, venison, lobster, etc..... what's not to like. If you have any special requests, you can call and talk to Chef Gunter Backhaus. He has always been very accommodating.

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Okay, here's a challenge -- I need to find a restaurant for dinner in or near York, PA (Gettysburg and Hanover are nearby) for a group of about 15 to 20 people, including kids from about age 8 to 18. The only requirements are good food, moderately priced, not a chain and if the wine list is decent that would be a big plus. A private room is not necessary. The food does not have to be fancy -- ie a place that has burgers on the menu would be fine, as long as they are good burgers and as long as the place is not just a burger joint.

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Okay, here's a challenge -- I need to find a restaurant for dinner in or near York, PA (Gettysburg and Hanover are nearby) for a group of about 15 to 20 people, including kids from about age 8 to 18. The only requirements are good food, moderately priced, not a chain and if the wine list is decent that would be a big plus. A private room is not necessary. The food does not have to be fancy -- ie a place that has burgers on the menu would be fine, as long as they are good burgers and as long as the place is not just a burger joint.

You might have to call ahead for them to be able to handle such a large group, but I would think Bel Paese would fit the bill for you. Good prices, great food and a decent winelist to boot. Contact info below... By the way, the Gamberi alla Nadia is fantastic.

1201 Memory Lane Ext

York, Pennsylvania 17402-9608 ph: 717.840.4040

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Went up to Lancaster, Bird In Hand, and Intercourse, PA yesterday to go to The Field of Screams for Halloween. Our decided to make a day of it and see the Amish countryside. I think that because the Amish are supposed to be without sin, they rely on food as their vice- rich and sweet food.

We started at the Farmer's Market at Bird in Hand to grab some light lunch and snacks. We had some handmade fresh pretzels, some freshly squeezed cider- both apple and cherry apple, and some bites of homemade pecan bread.

The whole market had plenty of samples of jams- loved the rhubarb and carrot, cheeses, meats, and desserts.

My cousin purchased some scrapple, Canadian bacon, and sweet bologna. We also tried some delicious beef jerky from the butcher stand at the market.

We then drove to Intercourse to visit the Kitchen Kettle Village. They had the Jarring Kitchen there where you could sample a wide variety of pickled items- Chow Chow, relishes, salsas, jams. We also stopped by the Smokehouse shop- a smaller butcher store. The location had a lot more tourists as well as tourist prices - $6 for 12 pack of birch beer!

We stopped at a couple farmhouses on the Old Philadelphia Pike- we picked up some homemade root beer that was stronger than commercial root beer. I got a homemade pumpkin pie. My cousin got a frozen chicken pie.

In Intercourse, I really liked the Stoltzfus Meats store- They are a regional butcher in Lancaster County. There we also picked up some Good's chips. Across the street, I also liked the Intercourse Canning company- less crowded than Jarring Kitchen. I liked their lime pickles, the pickled garlic cloves, and red beet eggs.

For dinner we went to the Stoltzfus Farm Restaurant. I liked their motto- "Meating you is our pleasure". The food is served family style and all you can eat. I really loved their homemade ham loaf. They also had potato filling- a dish that was like mashed potato and stuffing. Other favorites were their buttered noodles, the chicken gravy, and the pepper cabbage.

For dessert, I liked my cherry crumb pie.

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spent the weekend hanging with Thomas the Tank in Strasbourg and happened upon a great little Mexican place in Lancaster....

Its called Cocina Mexicana and is a tiny little place in downtown Lancaster (which I must say has a great little vibe to it and appears to have undergone significant regeneration in recent years with a host of new restaurants, hotels and a new college of music (or at least a new building).

Sets about 20 people tops.....not fancy, think cefateria style surroundings and presentations but cheap and probably better than 90% of the "Mexican" food available in DC. Tacos start at about $2 and are generously filled with a choice of toppings (I had beef tongue, chorizo and a third with steak, avocado and cactus). Lots of Mexican sodas as well as some home made juices and horchata. Kids menu prices included quesadilla, taco and chicken and were also about $2.

If we're looking for a comparison, imho this place is way better in terms of taste the Taqueria Nacionale.

If you're in the area you could do a lot worse.

Cocina Mexicana 47 N. Prince Street Lancaster, PA 17603

717-393-9193

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Spent the past weekend in the Strasburg area, and I can dutifully report that, as smorgasbords go, the Hershey Farm Inn on Rt. 896 is about as good as it gets in terms of quality. (For quantity, head to Shady Maple about 7 miles away.) I variously dined on chicken corn soup, chicken pot pie, ham meatballs, meatloaf, pork and sauerkraut, barbecued chicken and pickled red beet eggs. Granted, if I ate this way for two weeks I would gain 25 lbs. and come down with scurvy, but this is comfort food Pennsylvania Dutch style. I didn't even bother to go to the dessert island, and it was loaded with treats.

Please note that the Whoopie Pie Festival is coming up in a few weeks -- one of Lancaster's strange delicacies. Don't believe me? Go to:

http://www.whoopiepiefestival.com/

Had breakfast at Katie's Kitchen, which advertises authentic Amish food, also on Rt. 896. Trust me, you haven't lived until you have enjoyed the "Dutch Scramble" -- a scramble of canned mushrooms, onions, bell peppers, scrapple, eggs and cheese. I had a side of ham, just to make it properly balanced. In true Pennsylvania style, I doused it with ketchup. And also in true Lancaster style, the mushrooms are canned because, after all, Kennett Square is a good 30 minute drive. This meal stays with you a while....

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I worked at Hershey Farm washing dishes when it first opened and Ed Hershey was the owner. I've been there off-and-on since then and the food has been steadily going downhill... way downhill. Granted I haven't been there for about two years, so maybe it's improved. I grew up near Gap, PA and I can tell you most of the smorgasbord stuff is crap (except for Hershey's back in the day). Not sure how Shady Maple is "quantity" since Hershey's is all you can eat also.

My strongest recommendation if you want a healthy dose of Lancaster County/Amish/Mennonite food and culture is to go to the Green Dragon in Ephrata. It's only open on Friday's and I'm telling you that place hasn't changed since I was a kid. At night it's really hopping... especially in early October when the weather is great and there's lots of produce being sold. There's a huge area just for the Amish to park their buggies. The place that makes soft pretzels from scratch has been there for at least 40 years. One "new" product they've introduced is the "pretzel dog" which has become my favorite. The had it long before Auntie Anne (aka, Anne Byler).

kensei

Spent the past weekend in the Strasburg area, and I can dutifully report that, as smorgasbords go, the Hershey Farm Inn on Rt. 896 is about as good as it gets in terms of quality. (For quantity, head to Shady Maple about 7 miles away.) I variously dined on chicken corn soup, chicken pot pie, ham meatballs, meatloaf, pork and sauerkraut, barbecued chicken and pickled red beet eggs. Granted, if I ate this way for two weeks I would gain 25 lbs. and come down with scurvy, but this is comfort food Pennsylvania Dutch style. I didn't even bother to go to the dessert island, and it was loaded with treats.

Please note that the Whoopie Pie Festival is coming up in a few weeks -- one of Lancaster's strange delicacies. Don't believe me? Go to:

http://www.whoopiepiefestival.com/

Had breakfast at Katie's Kitchen, which advertises authentic Amish food, also on Rt. 896. Trust me, you haven't lived until you have enjoyed the "Dutch Scramble" -- a scramble of canned mushrooms, onions, bell peppers, scrapple, eggs and cheese. I had a side of ham, just to make it properly balanced. In true Pennsylvania style, I doused it with ketchup. And also in true Lancaster style, the mushrooms are canned because, after all, Kennett Square is a good 30 minute drive. This meal stays with you a while....

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I should note, in full disclosure, that I grew up in Lancaster and still have family there. I escaped about 35 years ago, but I still recall the highest compliment for a meal was "That was good - not spicy at all"....and, of course, after eating too much, you must declare "I'm all over-et". The Air Force rescued me in the late 1970s and I tasted my first jalapeno pepper in San Antonio in 1977 at a Church's Fried Chicken 'restaurant'. I thought a lightning bolt flew down my throat and that the top of my head was going to fall off. Now I eat them like candy.

The five basic food groups of Amish and Mennonite cooking are chicken, corn, flour, sugar and butter. Nonetheless, this is good and hearty grub, and there are places in Lancaster County like the Leola Restaurant that know what they're doing.

I'm happy to refer Rockwellians to family's favorite places to eat in Lancaster County. I doubt that the Michelin Guide will begin coverage anytime soon, but there are a few surprises lurking here and there....

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I'm going to be driving up to Harrisburg tomorrow ... any must-stop food places? Mostly thinking of things to pick up to go - probably won't have a meal - but anything to make the drive worthwhile would be helpful! Thanks...

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Lancaster is a good 30 minutes out of the way of your route, but if you're looking for an interesting meal on the high end, I can recommend john.j.jeffries without hesitation....

http://www.johnjjeffries.com/

In fact, it's on the Old Harrisburg Pike, so it's a very direct 30 minutes out of your way.

I think, in all honesty, that this is one of the more interesting restaurants east of the Mississippi right now. It all starts with Lancaster County and its immediate environs, a somewhat undiscovered oasis of all that is good about growing produce and raising animals -- not because it's all-of-a-sudden trendy, but because they've done it that way for centuries and they don't know it's cool. You're going to get farm-to-table organic deliciousness with every bite.

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Anyone have any new info on the Lancaster area? Going up to Strasburg to do a train weekend in a couple weeks for the kids and want to try something beyond the all you can eat, though we'll probably do that at least once too.

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Anyone have any new info on the Lancaster area? Going up to Strasburg to do a train weekend in a couple weeks for the kids and want to try something beyond the all you can eat, though we'll probably do that at least once too.

Sorry I saw this well after your trip, but please give a report. When you're with kids, Strasburg has a corner store with ice cream and penny candy, more or less in the town square. Depending on when you're there in the fall, the local firehouses feature chicken corn soup festivals. My favorite was always at the Lampeter-Strasburg fire hall.

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Had to cancel the October trip but did actually go up over the New Year. Ended up eating two dinners at the Doubletree resort where we were staying to maximize pool time for the kids. Food was decent for a Doubletree, though I pretty much stuck with bar food getting wings one night and fish and chips the other. For lunch one day we ate at Isaacs since it was closest to the Railroad museum. Gumbo was the soup of the day which I got since I wasn't too hungry. Was surprisingly spicy and though not the best I've had, satisfying on a cold day.

On Saturday, the day we left, we went to Central Market and then ate at the Pressroom which was just across the street. I had the mussels with fries, though disappointing the fries had to be ordered in addition to the fries. The best deal was the kids meal my son got with cheese pizza which seemed to be an adult size portion ad kids price.

Had hoped to eat at John Jeffries where we ate a few years ago when it was just our daughter and us, but couldn't get a reservation on the Friday we were there.

For anyone else planning to go up with kids, make sure to do your trip before January 1 because a lot of stuff closes after that for the season. For example the train wasn't running.

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The kids are 5 & 3.  Would they have more fun at Dutch Wonderland or Sesame Place?  Where's a good place to stay if we only spend 1 night, resort with decent restaurant on-site preferred.

Thanks.

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The kids are 5 & 3.  Would they have more fun at Dutch Wonderland or Sesame Place?  Where's a good place to stay if we only spend 1 night, resort with decent restaurant on-site preferred.

Thanks.

"Dutch Wonderland or Sesame Place?" on tripadvisor.com

"Dutch Wonderland vs. Sesame Place" on amusement-parks.wanderbat.com

"Dutch Wonderland or Sesame Street Place in June?" on fodors.com

"Sesame Place or Dutch Wonderland????" on city-data.com

"Sesame Place, Crayola Crayon Factory, Dutch Wonderland" by Jill Berry on musingsbyme.com

"Sesame Place or Dutch Wonderland" on disboards.com

"Dutch Wonderland vs. Sesame Place for 2-Year-Old?" on dcurbanmom.com

If you go to Dutch Wonderland, you can go to Good 'n' Plenty in Bird in Hand and gorge on fried chicken served family style (coupons online). Comfort Suites in Lancaster would be a nice hotel for a family of four. Other options:

post-2-0-87063100-1430233925_thumb.png

I suspect the rooms in Langhorne will be more expensive:

post-2-0-90274400-1430234064_thumb.png

Not sure how much travel you've done up here, but when I come, my goals are somewhat modest: "edible food" and "clean linens." If you take the side roads coming home, you're more likely to see carriages - once I even drove past a house where a bunch of Amish were having a party, playing volleyball in the backyard (hats, beards, and everything).

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We have two boys, 4 & 6 years old. Dutch Wonderland is perfect for kids that age.

  • It's a small park - you can literally walk across it in 5 minutes
  • Lines are very short
  • It's nestled in the trees, so sun overexposure isn't a problem
  • The rides are perfect for the ages you have
  • Parking couldn't be easier (and it's free, unless you pay for unnecessary "VIP" parking)

We usually make it a day trip, but we stayed once at Eden Resort in Lancaster and it was wonderful. They have a really nice kiddy pool area. http://www.edenresort.com/ We bought a Groupon and got the room for a very good price.

Although we didn't eat there due to our schedule, Rice & Noodles is supposed to be phenomenal. It was opened by a family from New Orleans who was displaced by Katrina and set up shop in Lancaster.

I can't speak highly of the food in the park. After a couple of disappointing experiences, we now pack a picnic lunch and eat in the pavilion right outside.

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Chiming in -- I grew up in Lancaster, and I still have family there.

Dutch Wonderland is OK but touristy. It's like a mini-Disneyland take on what "Pennsylvania Dutch" might look like to tourists who have never been there before. If that's how you want to entertain your kids for a few hours, then also consider the 45 minute trip to Hershey Park.

My recommendation to anyone who wants to see Lancaster County and the Pennsylvania Dutch lifestyle is to get a map and hit the back roads of eastern Lancaster County. You'll find Amish buggies on the roads, Amish kids playing in the fields, horse- and mule-drawn farm equipment being used in real life, actual, sustainable, organic, farm-to-table agriculture (they don't know it's "cool"), and plenty of roadside stands with fresh produce (and an "honor system" bucket to drop your money in). You might stumble across a community barbecue, where the local Amish families are collecting money to pay the medical bills for someone who was injured or sick, and where you will eat no better barbecued chicken on this or any other planet. You'll pass many houses where quilts are for sale, or woodworking is for sale, or better yet, baked goods are for sale.

Two absolutely safe bets for anyone who wants to get a real taste of Lancaster County:

  • Go to Strasburg, and take a ride on the Strasburg railroad through Lancaster County. It's beautiful. After (or before) the railroad, hang out in downtown Strasburg (it's a borough of about 3000 people) and eat the fresh ice cream in the Strasburg Country Store.
  • Go to East Earl, and head to Shady Maple. It is Lancaster in a nutshell. Shady Maple is a single family owned "Wegman's on steroids" kind of place, of which Lancaster County has quite a few. It's all of a supermarket -- but it defies that description -- and a gift shop and a smorgasbord all rolled into one. And it even has mini-barn to tether and water the horses for the buggies that come there to shop and eat. You won't see a lot of chain supermarkets in Lancaster because Shady Maple, and Stouffer's of Kissel Hill, and John Herr's in Millersville, and Musser's and Darrenkamp's and many others all invented the concept of the single family owned food market. The quality of the food at these places is amazing, and the prices indicate that they don't realize a commercial world outside of Lancaster even exists.

Lancaster is an interesting place, only about two and a half hours from Washington DC, and seemingly on the other side of the world. But tourist Lancaster and real Lancaster are two different things, and I suggest you seek out the latter.

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What a great write-up, Kibbeh! Makes me want to go asap!

My own dealings with an Amish farmer in Lancaster County, from whom I get fresh, wholesome, sustainably produced food on a weekly basis, lead me to add a caution. When you're touring Amish Country, DO NOT photograph Amish people. Animals and equipment are OK, but not the people.

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What a great write-up, Kibbeh! Makes me want to go asap!

My own dealings with an Amish farmer in Lancaster County, from whom I get fresh, wholesome, sustainably produced food on a weekly basis, lead me to add a caution. When you're touring Amish Country, DO NOT photograph Amish people. Animals and equipment are OK, but not the people.

I used to get up there twice a month in the summer. Just put a cooler in the trunk and go hit the farm stands on the sides of the roads, stock up on 30-50% lower cost groceries at Shady Maple or Stouffer's, and plow into a good smorgasbord prior to coming home....

And yes, don't photograph the Amish people's faces....but that only applies to the Old Order Amish and Old Order Mennonites....there are less conservative sects, and they don't mind it as much. You can always just ask them.

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Chiming in -- I grew up in Lancaster, and I still have family there.

Dutch Wonderland is OK but touristy. It's like a mini-Disneyland take on what "Pennsylvania Dutch" might look like to tourists who have never been there before. If that's how you want to entertain your kids for a few hours, then also consider the 45 minute trip to Hershey Park.

My recommendation to anyone who wants to see Lancaster County and the Pennsylvania Dutch lifestyle is to get a map and hit the back roads of eastern Lancaster County. You'll find Amish buggies on the roads, Amish kids playing in the fields, horse- and mule-drawn farm equipment being used in real life, actual, sustainable, organic, farm-to-table agriculture (they don't know it's "cool"), and plenty of roadside stands with fresh produce (and an "honor system" bucket to drop your money in). You might stumble across a community barbecue, where the local Amish families are collecting money to pay the medical bills for someone who was injured or sick, and where you will eat no better barbecued chicken on this or any other planet. You'll pass many houses where quilts are for sale, or woodworking is for sale, or better yet, baked goods are for sale.

Two absolutely safe bets for anyone who wants to get a real taste of Lancaster County:

  • Go to Strasburg, and take a ride on the Strasburg railroad through Lancaster County. It's beautiful. After (or before) the railroad, hang out in downtown Strasburg (it's a borough of about 3000 people) and eat the fresh ice cream in the Strasburg Country Store.
  • Go to East Earl, and head to Shady Maple. It is Lancaster in a nutshell. Shady Maple is a single family owned "Wegman's on steroids" kind of place, of which Lancaster County has quite a few. It's all of a supermarket -- but it defies that description -- and a gift shop and a smorgasbord all rolled into one. And it even has mini-barn to tether and water the horses for the buggies that come there to shop and eat. You won't see a lot of chain supermarkets in Lancaster because Shady Maple, and Stouffer's of Kissel Hill, and John Herr's in Millersville, and Musser's and Darrenkamp's and many others all invented the concept of the single family owned food market. The quality of the food at these places is amazing, and the prices indicate that they don't realize a commercial world outside of Lancaster even exists.

Lancaster is an interesting place, only about two and a half hours from Washington DC, and seemingly on the other side of the world. But tourist Lancaster and real Lancaster are two different things, and I suggest you seek out the latter.

Thanks for the write up, KN.  Probably from the 70's to the early 2000's I visited there many many times, specifically one family on State Street, quite near Franklin and Marshall.  Ate many meals that were described as "local".   Yep...chicken, it was ever present.  Toured the countryside in the manner you described above.  Some of the country side scenes were astonishing views in a long ago history.  Quite fascinating.

Ah...but there was one food to which I never grew accustomed  or enjoyed, yet was served it quite frequently and I never voiced my objections-->  scrapple.

From my perspective one could scrap scapple.  It wouldn't be missed.

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Thanks for the write up, KN.  Probably from the 70's to the early 2000's I visited there many many times, specifically one family on State Street, quite near Franklin and Marshall.  Ate many meals that were described as "local".   Yep...chicken, it was ever present.  Toured the countryside in the manner you described above.  Some of the country side scenes were astonishing views in a long ago history.  Quite fascinating.

Ah...but there was one food to which I never grew accustomed  or enjoyed, yet was served it quite frequently and I never voiced my objections-->  scrapple.

From my perspective one could scrap scapple.  It wouldn't be missed.

Graduate of Franklin and Marshall here....my nephew moved from State Street to northern Virginia a few years ago for a job. I knew it well.

As to scrapple, it's an acquired taste. And I acquired it. Pan-fried with eggs is the way I like it.

I also like head cheese, which is all the leftover bits of the pig boiled together and allowed to jell into a mold.

As I mentioned previously, before it was "cool" these people figured out nose-to-tail eating, charcuterie, organic farming, and every other "new" food trend, and they did it decades ago. I grew up on "new" food trends in Lancaster, and I laugh when I see them just now being adopted by hipsters.

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