Pennsylvania Dutch Foods And Foodways In The Midwest

HIGHLAND PARK –  On Friday March 15th and Saturday March 16th, Greater Midwest Foodways Alliance is hosting a learning tour on ‘Pennsylvania Dutch Foods and Foodways in the Midwest,’ a program featuring Anabaptist culinary traditions. 

Pennsylvania Dutch cooking originally developed as an accommodation of rural German traditions to the foods of the American frontier. It is a cuisine that has undergone remarkable changes. Yet over the years it has continued to find favor in the kitchens of Mennonite, Apostolic Christian, Amish and other Anabaptist communities. 

On Friday, our tour visits the Illinois Mennonite Heritage Center near Metamora to learn about Pennsylvania Dutch in Illinois and the foodways of the Anabaptists of West Central Illinois.  There will be presentations on ‘Early Anabaptists in Illinois and the Evolution of Pennsylvania Dutch,’ by Robert Dirks, Professor Emeritus from Illinois State University; ‘Our Daily Bread: Traditional Mennonite Food & Food Customs;’ and ‘Extending the Table: A History of Mennonite Central Committee and the Illinois Mennonite Relief Sale’ by Maurice Yordy.

We will continue on to Bloomington to the Interstate Center at 1106 Interstate Dr. in Bloomington. Where we will enjoy the foods and appreciate the crafts items offered at the 55th Annual Illinois Mennonite Relief Sale, an event that in many ways amounts to a grand celebration of Pennsylvania Dutch for a very worthy cause.

On Saturday, we return to the Relief Sale for a tour of Relief Sale and Dutch Market by Julie Hendricks, Administrative Coordinator of the Mennonite Heritage Center. We conclude with ‘Eat My Words: “Uncovering” Mennonite Women’s History Through Their Cookbooks’ with Julie Hendricks.

This learning tour will commence Friday, March 15th at the Illinois Mennonite Heritage Center, 675 State Route 116, Metamora, Illinois. For further information, please contact Greater Midwest Foodways Alliance: 312-380-1665 and website: Admission is $40, paid to Greater Midwest Foodways Alliance, 280 Laurel Avenue, Highland Park, IL 60035 or by credit card online at 

Greater Midwest Foodways Alliance is dedicated to celebrating, exploring and preserving unique food traditions and their cultural contexts in the American Midwest. By hosting public events, developing archival resources and generating publications, the GMFA uncovers the distinctiveness of a region that is as varied in tastes and traditions as it is in its geography from the Great Lakes to the Great Plains . Whether indigenous foods like Wisconsin cranberries and Minnesota walleye, iconographic flavors like the wheat and corn from across the prairies, immigrant cuisines from early Europeans to 21st century newcomers, or fish boils and fine dining in small towns and big cities, the Greater Midwest Foodways promotes and chronicles the diversity of the region’s culinary character.