Travelling borders, you know you’re in Dutch Country – Pennsylvania – when you see: miles of relaxing green pastures, man-made windmills, and a landmark of tradition in unchanged symbolic Germanic references in décor and timeless regional cuisine.
High hopes for “sugar pie, honey bunch?” Taking it easy, I got a taste of old-country heritage along a roadside stop, at the Dutch Pantry; the next best substitute to grandma’s kitchen. Offering smothery warm and comforting hugs – on a plate – the fritter and apple dumpling selections will undoubtedly leave you cinnamon-kissed with wholesome love. While tart lemon meringue and coconut cream pies also remain fixtures on the classic menu, one freshly baked good left me both amused, and equally intrigued – “shoo-fly pie.”
A deep-dish delight, formerly unbeknownst to me, I marveled in fascination as I wanted to learn more. And so, I had to take an intermittent pose from my daily business – of eating lunch – to detect this charming ‘wunderbar.’ Es-pie-onage in effect, examination of the golden and flaky crust exterior is revealing of flour and butter used for this typical pastry dough base. Continuing with a subsequent character profile, “shoo-fly’s” bubbly and burnt tinged surface is accurately indicative of its moist filling; a mixture of brown sugar, magnesium-rich molasses, eggs and creamy butter that makes for an unapologetically luring humble pie. Analysis and inspection complete, I deduce this syrupy shelled dessert to be a homegrown native – this state’s ultimate ‘sweetie pie.’
Still, why ‘shoo’ and ‘fly’? Eureka – I got it! Matching the modest lifestyle and traditional fare of the Pennsylvania Dutch, the answer is as understated. Irresistibly aromatic, the pie’s sweet contents are too tempting to ignore, making perfect sense for its attraction and one’s aim to detract – “shoo” away – flies. It’s that simple! Baking no-fuss pies, the Pennsylvanian Dutch unclutter life from unnecessary complications, and refer to things as they are – no sugar-coating. City folk or not, all can agree that this simple pie is what it is – ‘das Deutsch-gut!’
Copyright © DISHFUL, 2013.