BETHESDA, MD -  Fried Chicken and Waffles (Amish Chicken, Strawberry Rhubarb Compote, Kate and Pecan Syrup) at Barrel + Crow restaurant photographed in Bethesda, MD. (Photo by Deb Lindsey For The Washington Post via Getty Images).
Food - Drink
What Makes Amish Soul Food Unique?
You may have heard of Amish butter or visited an Amish bakery selling flavorful cakes, brownies, pies, preserves, and bread, but you’re probably not familiar with Amish soul food. Although it may sound strange, when southern African Americans moved north, they discovered their soul food had a lot in common with Amish cooking, and a delicious fusion cuisine was born.
Amish Soul Food?
Not only were soul food dishes like cobblers, pies, and cornbread adaptable to Amish cooking, the two cuisines shared staple ingredients like cornmeal and pickled relish. Moreover, the Amish found that their dishes and techniques — like balancing sweet and sour —naturally complimented soul food.
During the Great Migration, African Americans moving out of the South brought soul food north, and those who settled in Chester County, Pennsylvania, found a kindred cuisine with their new Amish neighbors. Over generations, the cooking of Chester County evolved into what is now known as Amish soul food.
Chef Chris Scott, who grew up in Chester County, actually coined the term "Amish soul food," and the interesting thing Scott points out is that the Amish don't actually eat Amish soul food. Instead, the food is a way for them to honor the evolving cuisine of Chester County and simultaneously honor their neighbors’ heritage.
Part of the reason the two cuisines easily meld is that the two cultures share similar culinary practices such as being resourceful, sharing food, and keeping gardens. The biggest difference is the Amish's technique of balancing sweet and sour, like their fried chicken which is brined in lemonade rather than sweet tea.