We all stopped at the Mount Hope horse auction. The amount of horses & buggies parked outside was astronomical. They seemed to stretch as far as the eye could see. Inside the barn, we could not believe our eyes. Hundres of Amish men, gazed only on the 20 foot horse-run in front of them. It was a massive sea of straw hats. The auctioneer, who couldnt have been more than 30, was spitting out random horse facts like a gatling gun spits bullets. It obviously smelled of horse shit in there, so I laughed heartily when my grandma (mom's side) took a step in the barn & said, "Oooh, it STINKS in here." Wow, ya think? We stuck around for about 5 minutes, watching Amish teens race their horses around, in hopes that a straw-hat clad man in the bleachers would throw up his hand, signifying a bid. The frustrating part of the Amish is that they strongly discourage pics taken of them. A part of me wants to be an asshole & snap pics like a tourist, giving the excuse "well, I'll never see them again". The other part of me knows better, and since I've come to respect their way of life, I've respected their wishes not to be photographed. (Note - of course, on the last day of my trip, my Aunt informed me that they 'allow'pics of them to be taken, they just won't 'pose' for any. Wish I would have known that at this time, as the view of a hundred straw hat men hunched over in bleachers was quite a spectacle. But, the few non Amish people (us) that were there already stood out like a sore thumb, so the flash would have made things MIGHTY awkward. Anyways..)
The next stop was the Ashery Country store. They specialized in handmade jams, jellies, cooking ingredients, organic foods & more. I bought some organic spinach spaghetti, corn salsa, black raspberry seedless jelly, and bacon horseradish veggie dip mix. Next stop, my mom & dad and the gang went to Lehman's Furniture & Amish museum. There was a small flea market outside the 3 building complex, which my parents always go for. I bought 2 beer mirror/signs, a flour advertising tin, and 5 old car/ santa claus advertisements. Before I bought those, I went into the overpriced Lehman's store and bought something. I'll give you one guess. Yup - bought a an Amish straw hat and wore it proudly around the grounds. One of the vendors, after buying the flour tin said, "Where'd you get that hat?" He was a middle-aged, tanned man with a black t-shirt that was about 6 sizes too small. "In the general store," I replied. "How much they want for it?" "12 bucks". "The Amish will be talkin to ya in no time with that hat on." For some reason, I wasn't sure what to say back. I kinda froze actually. So I say back, "Oh, we don't want that, do we. I better watch out!" I had no idea why I said that. With a heavy cackle, he continued, "They'll be askin you to marry their daughters, they will!"
I took the hat off.
This was the 2nd reference to Amish desperation! Earlier yesterday I remember hearing my aunt say something to the likes of "expanding the gene pool". Reluctantly, I told my parents about Mark's Amish $5k offer, and they of course didn't believe it. It's 5pm now, and we're on our way to the family style Amish Dinner. I'm expecting good things.
We pulled up to a small white Amish farmhouse about quarter to 7. 17 of us in tow now, seated in a small room on benches. There was a few skylights that brought a small amount of light into the room. Tiny decorative china plates that had the 50 states on them were hung from the rafters. The floor was composed of black & white tiles. 2 Amish women arrived with some fresh baked bread and homemade sweet & sour coleslaw. Butter, strawberry and black raspberry jam, and Amish peanut butter were laid out for bread toppings. This Amish peanut butter was insane. It's already sweet as it is, but then they add marshmallow fluff in it. I felt like having a heart attack everytime I looked at it, let alone when I ate it. They then offered sweet spearmint tea, with mint grown fresh from their garden. I didn't have any. Next came buttery whipped mashed potatoes, followed by chicken stuffing. The highlight of the meal, oddly enough, was the corn. I had 3 helpings. It was ridonculous. Kernels cut straight from the cob earlier in the morning. Drenched in butter, simmering in a porcelain serving bowl. Calling me to serve him up on my plate. Oh god, the corn, how i miss thee. Then came the mac & cheese. Then gravy. Then more bread. It was a miracle I didn't have to be rolled out of that room like Violet Beauregard a la Charlie & the Chocolate Factory. But oh no, this stomach overhaul wasn't done yet. Then came the baked chicken and the roast beef. Then came the 2 huge bowls of date pudding, which sounds gross, but was very good, of course. My intestines were on the brink of explosion. At that very moment, the Amish officially started to mock me. Out of the kitchen, came the 2 Amish ladies in aprons, wheeling 2 gigantic carts out with about 50 slices of pie on them.
I wanted to punch myself in the face. Pie selections included (from memory) elderberry, peanut butter creme, brown cherry, and custard. I opted for peanut butter creme. Which was an awfully good selection. I took 3 bites & it was as if I'd popped 40 sugar cubes into my mouth. It was a delicious high-calorie mess topped with whipped cream. So, after those 3 bites, I threw in the towel. I defined the word 'overeating'. I defy you, though, to find a better home-cooked meal anywhere else in the midwest. If you think you have a winner, let me know. The herd parted ways, and I spent the rest of the night digesting food and sitting next to a fire that My Aunt's husband's daughter and her boyfriend and I made, while somehow drinking some MGD on tap downstairs (He had a quarter barrel in a mini fridge!) The rain ended up snuffing our fire out a little after midnight. It also meant the next day that our vacation was over.
Sun. Aug 10, 2008
I woke up to the sound of glass shattering. Which is true, but I've always wanted to write that, and mean it. PJ was bringing the coffee maker & coffee potup the stairs when the pot slid off & broke into a million angry shards of glass. This event is actually somewhat important, as it marked the 3rd day in a row, on a vacation, that I didn't sleep past 10am. Yeah , I'm impressed too. I took a shower and packed. After gathering all my stuff, I marched it all the way up her ridiculously steep driveway. My aunt had planned a Lebanese / Syrian feast for lunch. I had never had any Lebanese food, so I was looking forward to it. Available were hummus, grape leaves with rice, taboulleh, pita bread, bahklavva, and a bunch of other things that I can't pronounce. It did not disappoint.