Amish and Mennonite
The way of life for the Amish and Mennonite is unlike the general population. They are plain hard working people who are good neighbors and outstanding farmers, who have remained unchanged for hundreds of years. The food of Amish and Mennonites cooks is simple and naturally wholesome.The women are good cooks and recipes are handed down from grandmother to mother to daughter.
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Both the Amish and Mennonites, as well as the Dunkards, were part of the Church of the Brethren, originating in Germany in the 1700s, all have roots in Swiss Anabaptist movement beginning in 1525 during the Protestant reformation. Their leader was a Dutch Priest, Menno Simons, and his followers were known as Mennonites. They believed in separation of church and state. They were against sworn oaths and taking part in war.They believed in living simply and rejected all worldly trappings.
A Swiss Mennonite, Joseph Ammann, in 1693 thought the church was losing its original aim and broke from the Mennonites to form his own group. That group was later called the Amish. He gathered people who agreed with his position and the Amish grew. Even today, the Amish are more conservative than the Mennonites. Noted for their plain clothing and their use of horse and buggy transportation. They do so to fulfill the scriptures that tells them they must be separate from the world.
Because of persecution in Europe, the Amish and Mennonites accepted William Penn’s invitation to come to Pennsylvania. The Amish, Mennonites, Dunkards and the Brethern, lived side by side in Pennsylvania and the groups were intermingled. An Amish family has an average of 8 children and infant morality rate is low. If an Amish person leaves the church he is likely to become a Mennonite. The two groups live side by side, share relatives, have common roots and believe basically the same doctrine. They differ mainly in outward practices. Mennonites are more urban while the Amish are totally rural.
Shunning in the church still exists and it’s practice varies from community to community. The extreme form is when the Amish congregation withholds themselves from the guilty party in social and business dealings. The intent of shunning is not to punish, but to bring the offender back into the church.
Since the Amish and Mennonites remain separate from the rest of the population, (especially the Amish) their ways, language, and eating habits have changed very little in the hundreds of years. Cooks are still preparing food their ancestors did in Germany and Switzerland. It’s not uncommon to find the most classic European country dishes in the communities. Their recipes not only reflect their European heritage but that these women began exchanging recipes with their American neighbors the minute they set foot in Pennsylvania.
The day starts early at an Amish farm, livestock must be fed, cows milked, eggs gathered while the rest of the world is still in bed. By day break the family is ready for a hearty breakfast. Nobody worries about calories. With a hard days work ahead calories are needed. Newly washed clothes will soon dance on the clothes line, women and daughters will work barefoot in the garden. Men and boys will be in the fields with horses and plows.
The Amish and Mennonites are known for their fine quilts. Women make them for personal use, gifts, or to sell. All brides have a chest full of handsome quilts by the time they are married. Made for bed quilts, they are highly prized by collectors as works of art. Featured in museums throughout America, these quilts are distinctive of the people who make them.
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