As the flurries started falling at the start of our February two-foot snowstorm, I made my way to the Lancaster County Dutch Market in Germantown. I knew better than to go within a mile of a grocery store, but I thought the Amish market, as it’s commonly called, might not be so insanely crowded.
The Lancaster County Dutch Market is an experience. Made up of individual markets housed in the same building, it has great food and a great atmosphere. Each section is run by a different family or group and items are paid for in that section, rather than at the end at checkout lines.
I went there to buy some delicious fried chicken for dinner, but I can’t walk in without exploring all areas of the store. It’s laid out in a square, with various markets lining both sides of the main aisle. First you come upon the dried goods where they have all kinds of spices and extracts in addition to staples of sugar and flour. Then you arrive at the cold cuts and prepared salads. But I can never pass up my favorite section—the candy. The nonpareils are my downfall, but they have all kinds of other goodies too, many bringing back fond childhood memories–licorice, Boston beans and candy necklaces among others. They even have candy cigarettes, which I didn’t think existed anymore. I’ve resisted buying them on principle so far, but I might have to get a pack next time, just for old time’s sake. A friendly young woman with a dress, apron and sheer white head-covering rang up my purchase. Just the nonpareils….this time.
As I continued on, I perused the fresh produce, fresh cut flowers, large selections of meats, and prepared chicken and ribs. I stopped to buy the fried chicken that had brought me to the store in the first place. The chicken is delicious, there are large pieces and it’s cheaper than chicken in a bucket. The people behind the counter are friendly and incredibly efficient. I got through what I thought was a long line in just a minute or so.
The Amish market also has beautifully crafted wooden furniture. I can’t walk by without running my hand over the smooth wood. It’s not cheap, but it’s not cheaply made either.
Rounding the last corner, I stopped to taste some of the cheeses. And while I passed by the bakery area, looking longingly at all the delicious looking desserts, but not buying them, I did notice that they still had plenty of bread and milk. This is important with 2 feet of snow on the way, so they say. But is it really more important than being stocked up on nonpareils?
About the Author: Claire S., Montgomery County resident since 1989, has lived in Kensington, Montgomery Village, Flower Hill in Gaithersburg and for many years in the Milestone neighborhood of Germantown.
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