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As American as Shoofly Pie: The Foodlore and Fakelore of Pennsylvania Dutch Cuisine Hardcover – 3 May 2013
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- Publisher : University of Pennsylvania Press; Illustrated edition (3 May 2013)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 328 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0812244796
- ISBN-13 : 978-0812244793
- Dimensions : 15.24 x 3.3 x 23.37 cm
- Customer Reviews:
Weaver seems to have had a ripping good time unmasking the fake Pennsylvania Dutch tourist culture, with its hex signs (bogus) and windmills (faux) and buffets designed to fill up busloads of tourists on a budget. . . . At the same time, Weaver has taken seriously his mission to rediscover the foods of his ancestors, interviewing hundreds of people over 30 years.--NPR's The Salt
Weaver's book, written in a straightforward, journalistic style, is an important addition to the work surrounding food studies. He incorporates primary documents, including a compilation of important recipes; literature; personal interviews; and historical cookbooks, to report the history and development of the cuisine. This pioneering research lays the groundwork both for further exploration of Pennsylvania Dutch cookery as well as the identification and study of other regional diets that, as a whole, form an American cuisine.--Journal of American Culture
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The author is from a Pennsylvania Dutch family, and grew up eating the food and speaking Pennsylfaanish.
I really enjoyed reading this, and appreciate the careful documentation (the bibliography takes 4 pages to list the interviews conducted during the author’s research).
I learned quite a bit.
I hadn’t realized that it has a big recipe section, but quite a few look very interesting, and I plan to try them out.
Where to begin? The dust jacket is a good place. Pictured are iconic items relating to popularized versions of PA Dutch (German) culture and cuisine. By the time you finish reading the book, you should be able to understand his choice of the items pictured. You will also come away with an appreciation of the diversity of PA Dutch food and the many ways in which it has been falsely or incompletely represented. You will learn of the association in popular culture with the Amish, who are a religious sect, and one that in many ways is atypical of the broader range of PA Dutch sub-cultures. You will become aware of the various social forces and history that have shaped the views of many to give the ludicrous highly marketed, and frequently inaccurate, image of the PA Dutch cultures and their cuisine(s).
As documented by Weaver, the subcultures that gave rise to this regional culture and cuisine were all Germanic (aka High Dutch) in origin, but diverse, arriving in PA over a period of time, and included not just German speakers from the Palatine, but also from Swabia, Hesse, Alsace and Switzerland. One learns not just about Mennonites and the Amish subgroup, but also about the church people (Lutheran, Reformed and Moravians) as well as sectarian groups no longer commonly known to the general public. One meets the rural and urban elites, the sophisticated "Hasenpfeffer Dutch" who dined elegantly and lived well. These were the large farmers, merchants, brewers and professional class, many well educated and well traveled. Weaver also focuses on the solid "burgher" middle class of the towns and smaller cities, and points out that farmers could range from wealthy and middle class in the fertile valleys to the poor, living hand to mouth on marginal land on the hillsides of more remote areas.
The book also discusses the image of the "Dutch", as shaped by factors such as anti-German sentiment from the World Wars, excessive pressure and attempts to completely anglicize them, differing religious and folk customs, complex socio-economic factors and pulp fiction novels that were frequently biased and highly inaccurate. The first section of the book ends with an assessment of current trends, such as the new Amish image e.g., green and close to the earth, or as a stamp of authenticity for things not even remotely connected to the Amish subculture. He also writes about authentic features of cuisine and as how they might serve as a basis for something better than the bland greasy fried tourist fare, or a few stereotypical dishes.
The book ends with a section of recipes, ranging from simple one-pot "poverty dishes" to more elegant dishes of the wealthy "Hasenpfeffer Dutch". I have not tried any of the recipes, but having made recipes from his other historical cookbooks on the PA Dutch cuisine, I expect good results.