PA is one of the only states with a distinct cultural cuisine, dating back to the late 17th century when German immigrants began setting up various communities across the state. They came to be known as the Pennsylvania Deitsch or Pennsylvania Dutch, taking from the word for their original German language, Deutsch. PA has many dishes similar to those of Germany, but the state also has many foods that can be distinguished completely from their original foreign inspirations.
The medicinal effects of the sassafras root have been known to both Native American and European cultures for centuries. Root Beer is made using this plant, as well as sarsaparilla vine, and comes in both alcoholic and non-alcoholic forms. The drink as we know it today was created by European settlers in the 1800s, who combined their knowledge with what they had gathered from the natives to market Root Beer as a syrup, and eventually a soda by 1850. Non-alcoholic Root Beer has been more popular in the US since Prohibition. Although variations of Root Beer existed across Europe and early US colonies, the drink as we know it today was first created and marketed successfully by Charles Hires, a Philadelphian Quaker.
Made in a similar manner to Root Beer, Birch Beer is made using birch bark, most often from sweet (black) birch. Both Root Beer and Birch Beer are popular as floats, in which vanilla ice cream is added to the drink. Adding chocolate ice cream to Birch Beer is called a Black Cow. Both drinks are popular across the US, but mostly in California and the Northeast, as these are where major soda beer companies are located. The drinks are also making their way into various Asian countries.
This popular beer began in 1829 by David Jungling in Pottsville, PA, and has been brewing ever since. The company survived Prohibition by selling both near-beers and making ice cream from their dairy. It is popular along the east coast down to Florida. It is America’s oldest and largest brewery. The company still produces Yuengling Ice Cream, after halting the product for decades, and it is sold in various flavors.
Wine & Spirits
PA has some of the strictest liquor laws in the US. Wine and spirits can only be sold at state owned stores. Beer can be bought only at a beer store or distributor. Alcohol can of course still be bought at restaurants, bars, and wine at wineries. There are no exceptions, religious or otherwise, for consuming alcohol under the legal age limit.
This pan-fried meat patty is made of leftover porkscraps from butchering, and mixed with buckwheat flour and cornmeal. It’s found in various northeast states, but hales from PA.
This highly caramelized and concentrated form of apple sauce is a popular spread in PA due to its German roots. It is part of the traditional “seven sweets and seven sours” dinner table. It’s served best with cottage cheese.
Created in Lebanon County, PA, this hardwood smoked and fermented beef sausage is distinct from other salami. It has a unique tangy/smoked flavor and is sold mostly in PA.
Pig’s stomach stuffed with potatoes, pork sausage,and varying other ingredients. It is traditionally eaten on New Year’s Day
Pickled vegetables served as relish. The dish has spread to the southern US and many other states.
A tough cut of meat, usually beef or the traditional horse, is marinated in vinegar or wine and a variety of spices for several days. It a national German dish with various PA adaptations.
Schnitz und Knepp
Dried apples, dumplings, and ham are long cooked for this warm winter dish. The dish came into creation in the 19th century thanks to Johnny Appleseed planting apple trees in PA.
Red Beet Eggs
Hard-boiled eggs cured in beet, vinegar, clove, and sugar brine. They have a distinct red-purple coloring.
A simple traditional mashed potato and bread casserole, occasionally made with a variety of other ingredients such as butter, eggs, parsley,and onion.
Invented in the 17th century, this smelly, yellowish, hard-but-spreadable cheese is traditionally sold in a cup across PA.
The only item on this list not traditionally PA Dutch, the cheesesteak is a long hoagie with thinly sliced steak meat and melted cheese, sometimes with sauteed onions. It was invented in Philadelphia around the 1930s. This next statement is for the tourists: no restaurant claiming to have the best/original cheesesteak is telling the truth; they’re pretty much all the same, and everyone has their own favorite cheesesteak spot. Also, it’s best with provolone.
Whether dry bottom or wet bottom, this pie is made by filling a pie shell with molasses and crumbs, and then baked. It gets its name from the flies that must be shooed away from the sweetness.
This cake/pie/giant oreo cookie is the greatest thing to ever exist. It’s two slices of chocolate cake, or sometimes other cake flavors, sandwiching around cream filling. The pie is popular in Maine, and although many states claim to be the origin, the recipe for the Whoopie Pie comes from the Amish Pennsylvania Dutch, in PA.
Teaberry Ice Cream
Not PA Dutch, this strictly-PA ice cream flavor is made from the teaberry and tastes like fresh wintergreen. PA ice cream manufacturers like Hershey and Turkey Hill also make commercial versions. It’s bright pink and tastier than it sounds.
This apple-cinnamon pastry is native to PA and popular throughout the northeast.
This PA Dutch dish was brought over by German immigrants, and became popular around 1879. It’s just fried dough with powdered sugar. It is now served mainly at fairs across the northeast.
Pork and Sauerkraut
This is eaten on New Year’s Day for good luck
Not a meat pastry like in the rest of the US. This a soup made with traditional Pot Pie ingredients, as well as homemade square noodles.
Chicken and Waffles
Not the soul food version. This is a waffle covered in gravy and pulled chicken.
Pierogies are found frequently across PA, especially Pittsburgh, with various new recipes thanks to the heavy Eastern European population.
The regional name of the submarine sandwich found in PA. Wawa’s Hoagiefest is a celebrated tradition for many east PA natives.
The slang term for over easy eggs or any form of fried eggs. It arose from people dipping their toast in the yolk. In my opinion, that’s the best way to eat an egg.
Actor Oscar Isaac is in Pittsburgh, PA working on a new movie called Steel Town. He also happens to be a very talented singer/songwriter and graciously accepted an invitation to perform at the Empire Music Open Mic on July 15, 2011. This piece is titled “Empty Apartment” and is one of Oscar’s originals. He is accompanied by Luke Williams, an instructor at Empire Music Co. in Mt. Lebanon PA who is teaching Oscar to play the ukulele for his current film project.
I’ve had this one in my drafts for ages. It’s also on @apolloadama ’s Master Post.
To be honest, the only reason I watched Lebanon, PA was because I was shown the introduction at a film festival workshop in 2010 as proof of the benefits of collaboration, but never saw the end which was immensely irritating.
Will is a successful advertising person in Center City Philadelphia, who gets called to rural Lebanon PA to manage his father’s thing after his death. He becomes intwined with life in this rural town and has to tackle issues of teen pregnancy and what meaning in life means. The town is more conservative that the liberal life he’s known, and Will also struggles with how to adapt into a town where not all of his ideals are welcome.
This is a solid low-budget indie movie. Admittedly, the plot can border on trite, but the humanity displayed makes up for it. Josh Hopkins (Will) does a solid job portraying not too complicated a character, but Rachel Kitson really made this movie an enjoyable watch. She played her character with the uncertainty, depth and likability deserved. I would be excited to future movies she’s in.
It might not have been worth seeing in theaters, but it is definitely a worthwhile streaming flick.
Frank Schaefer was an ordinary Methodist pastor in Lebanon, PA, USA. But after blessing the marriage of his gay son, the Methodist Church stripped him of his credentials and the story made national news.
Fortunately, Schaefer will now be reinstated. He plans to celebrate by going to a White House Pride event with his son. Schaefer will be continuing his ministry in Santa Barbara, CA.