In March, I attended a special dinner event at an Amish family’s house somewhere in Geauga County, Ohio. The dinner had been reserved by a friend back in 2011. Looking ahead, this family is booked solid through 2017. And they host these dinners four times each week.
All of which made for a very enticing story. The finished product is a pleasant tale of off-the-beaten-path dining in Northeast Ohio and a brief meditation on the Amish lifestyle.
Here’s the general rundown of the evening’s unrelentingly delicious food, in order: mixed fruit, home-baked bread with maple butter spread, orange Jello pudding, salad resplendent with veggie decor, cottage cheese (featuring Cool Whip, which raises eyebrows among the diners), mountains of chicken breasts and prime rib, stuffing (the depth of flavor in this dish has made grown men cry, we’re told), mashed potatoes and the accompanying gravy boat, and the dichotomous seas of corn and peas.
We spoon heaps of the offerings onto our plates as quaint candles flicker against the fading light outside. It’s impossible to scoop a serving without remarking on how fantastically scrumptious each dish looks, and the same ebullient mutterings follow once it enters the mouth. This is the inner core of table conversation, as we are collectively unable to stop drooling. The stuffing really is ambrosial. The chicken? Divine.
Our hosts for the evening, an Amish couple somewhere in their 30s, tend to the needs of all guests. They’re well practiced in the art of hospitality, and soon enough there’s this sense that we’ve all been friends for a very long time.
“If you ask for something and we have it, you’ll get it. If you ask for something and we don’t have it, you won’t get it. If you don’t ask for something and we have it, you won’t get it.” Our bearded host intermittently casts guidance like that across the dining room. We slowly settle in to the ebb and flow of the proceedings. Judging by portions of the night’s conversations, no one is really clear on how formal or informal we should be acting, and it’s best that we do away with undue caution as early as possible. For now, we are at home.