I've been a Pennsylvania resident since the mid-80's and believe or not, I'd never been to the Amish country until this past weekend. Amazing, isn't it? I'd driven past Lancaster numerous times when I was shuttling between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia/New York City, but I'd never made a stop. I wonder why.
Anyway, Lancaster is quite an interesting place. Driving down Rt. 30, I couldn't help but notice the rows of shops and malls (even an outlet mall!) and chain restaurants and gas stations with relatively cheap prices (I later discovered that their gas was mixed with ethanol -- I guess the abundance of corn comes in handy). Looked more like Vegas. I took a picture of the Wawa station while a bunch of bikers were out in the front with their Harleys. I hope they didn't think I was being obnoxious when I took their pictures.
Once we got off the main roads, the landscape changed quite a bit. Corn fields, of course, was the staple here. Miles and miles and miles of them, and strong, tall, healthy cornstalks soaking in the hot sun. We stopped by an Amish BBQ place (there is such a thing), and ordered some traditional Amish dishes. I had a Bot Boi, which is basically a thick chicken stew with flat, square noodles. It was wet and mushy but extremely flavorful. I also had chicken corn soup which was marvelous. After dinner, we went shopping at the craft stores and got some handmade knickknacks and a whole Shoo Fly Pie, made of molasses and granular brown sugar. It tastes kind of like pecan pie without the pecans. YUM.
We also saw a few Amish people in their horse and buggies. I couldn't get my camera out quickly enough to snap pictures, though.
In a way, it's weird for me to talk about the Amish as if they were some kind of zoo animals. I really mean no disrespect. It's just that the whole thing about living in a parallel universe with a 21st century America while maintaining their way of life and religious belief -- it's fascinating. Talk about values and disciplines. I couldn't even maintain my workout schedule.
Too bad I didn't really have a lot of time but I intend to visit again.