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America’s heartland: Elkhart County’s Amish haystack

Courtesy Elkhart County CVB

Folks throughout the Midwest know the Amish for their old-fashioned lifestyles. But in Elkhart County of northern Indiana, groups can sample the Amish haystack, a meal that is unique to the Amish people of the local area.

“You build your own haystack,” said Sonya Nash, travel trade marketing manager at the Elkhart County Convention and Visitors Bureau. “You basically have rice at the bottom, and then it’s a meat mixture. They may do a spaghetti-sauce meat mixture or a taco meat mixture.

“You can put on as many toppings as you want — vegetables, chips or other things. Then, over it all, you pour on this gooey white cheese sauce, which makes it look like a haystack.”

The area became known for haystack meals when a local Amish school entered the dish into a Paul Newman food contest and won first prize. Today, groups can have haystack lunches or dinners served in Amish homes or in restaurants at local attractions such as Amish Acres.

The haystack and other Amish meals traditionally end with a pie, and the Elkhart area offers plenty of options for the tasty pastries. Das Dutchman Essenhaus restaurant serves 29 varieties of pie, including the sweet, gooey shoofly pie, which is another specialty among the Amish.

For more America’s heartland:

History thrives
Cuisine that makes it good to be hungry

Agritourism’s harvest
Get hip to the urban heartland
Conner Prairie
Agritourism on the cusp of suburbia
Tasting the Old World

Brian Jewell

Brian Jewell is the executive editor of The Group Travel Leader. In more than a decade of travel journalism he has visited 48 states and 25 foreign countries.