Oh sure, boycotting the Amish is easy enough if you live in, say, Illinois. It’s not as if you’re confronted with stern pie-wielding women in starched dresses and headscarves at every turn, with yummy pies that present the most difficult of ethical dilemmas right there before your eyes. You see, ever since I learned that the Amish are some of the absolute worst transgressors when it comes to running puppy mills, I’ve refused to have anything to do with them. I know, kind of shocking, isn’t it? I think we all have this image of the peaceful, serene, nature-loving Amish, and this certainly jolts that notion. But if you think about it, they’re also a practical people, to a fault, so they view dogs as just another form of livestock. Hence, why Lancaster County, PA, where the Amish live, is considered the puppy mill capital of the east coast.
And so I’ve been diligently and determinedly - some would even say with the fervor of a zealot – boycotting all things Amish ever since finding this out. Pies? Nay! Furniture? J’accuse! Sticky toffee pudding? Well, okay, but that’s because that’s British, and I’m not pissed off at them. Yet.
So that’s me living in Illinois, pretty much the non-Amish capital of the world. Going Amish, as I call it, aka shunning them, isn’t too tricky.
But then there’s Pennsylvania. Philadelphia, to be specific. And even more specifically, in a word: Reading Terminal Market. A veritable bonanza of all that is good and holy in FoodLand. When I lived in Philly during my time at Wharton, I discovered Reading Terminal and have maintained that love affair with that particular market ever since. For the uninitiated, RTM is an indoor market with an industrial, gritty feel to it, but not in a bad way. It’s just not all prettified and gussied up like most markets are, like say in Chicago. There are fruit and veggie operations, but it’s mostly prepared food of different kinds, from all these different vendors. Pork sandwiches, Italian food, bakeries, seafood, corned beef sandwiches as big as your head – it’s all there. And then of course there’s the Amish section. Or, as I like to call them, the Mennonites.
Because Cori and I get to Philly last weekend for the Living Beyond Breast Cancer Conference – also known as an excuse to get together and hang out with our CancerChick friends – and lo and behold, our hotel is basically RIGHT ACROSS the street from the RTM. Well! As you can imagine, since we got into Philly a day early, we dump our stuff at the hotel and head right over there, since I’ve been regaling Cori with the wonders of the Market for hours.
We walk in, and you’d think that I’d at least wander around the entire market, to see what’s new and what’s not, and then maybe possibly eventually make my way to the Amish section, where I’d look at them condescendingly, make disparaging remarks about puppy abusers under my breath, before walking away in disgust, right? Well, that’s almost exactly what happened. To wit:
Cori: Oh my god, this place is amazing! I want to….hey, where are you going?
Me, beelining towards a certain section: This way! The Amish are this way! I want to see them make the pretzels!
Cori: But I thought you were boycotting the Amish?
Me, practically running: Oh, I am, I AM. I just want to watch. In mocking fashion, of course.
We make it to the Amish section in record time.
Cori: That IS pretty neat, I wonder how the…..hey, what are you buying?
Me: Umm…..you know, I’ve decided they must be Mennonite after all, clearly, because otherwise how would they make it to the market every day to run their pretzel emporium, or operate the pretzel-making equipment? The Amish can’t do any of that stuff. And I’ve never heard of Mennonites and puppy mills.
Cori: Maybe you should google it fir…...mmphphpmphph…..
Whatever Cori was going to say is lost forever, as somehow she winds up with a pretzel stuffed in her mouth. Inexplicable.
So that, my dear friends, is apparently the cost of Miss Tasha’s soul: a freshly made, delicious pretzel, buttery and warm and yummy.
I am so going to burn in hell…..