The Amish Funeral Pie

For Atlas Obscura, Sam O’Brien examined the history of Pennsylvania’s forgotten baked good, the Amish funeral pie:

Of all the parties to crash, a funeral in the traditionally parsimonious Mennonite community doesn’t seem like an obvious choice. But the funerary feast was a rare opportunity for extravagance among Pennsylvania Germans. Instead of the usual cabbage and dumplings, there was beef, ham, or chicken. Instead of the usual coarse rye bread, there was white or wheat. The fixation on funeral food even made its way into slang: In 1907, a grandmother recounted how “thoughtless youngsters” called funerals weissbrot-frolics, or “white bread frolics.”

But the sweet star of the funeral banquet was raisin pie, a dish so tied to the event that it became a euphemism for death itself. When an ailing member of the community took a turn for the worse, it was not uncommon to hear someone solemnly declare, “There will be raisin pie soon.”

Raisin pie itself isn’t particularly foreboding. But in 19th-century Pennsylvania German homes, it meant one thing: Death was near. Once it arrived, so too would friends and neighbors, coming to “redd up” the bereaved family’s home for the funeral. This meant cooking, cleaning, and baking raisin pie. The treat was such a common sight at post-memorial meals, it also became known as funeral pie (or, in Pennsylvania German, leicht-boi).

There a plenty of recipes out there such as this one from Amish 365. I could go for some raisin pie right now. You know, to honour the Que— kidding.

Pastry related: a split decision pie pan, an emerald marine chocolate mint tart, and have you tried the water pie?

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