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Rules for Dinner With an Amish Family

by Kathy Gleason

If you have been invited to dine with an Amish family, you may be nervous and unsure what to expect, although generally an Amish family would likely only invite you to dine if they knew you fairly well already. While traditions and expectations vary a bit depending on what order the Amish are and how traditional their values, there are a few things to keep in mind. When in doubt, you can always ask your hosts ahead of time if you can bring anything along or if they have any special requests of you.

Forget Your Diet

While traditional Amish food is delicious, it is not low fat. Amish meals often include meat, cream-based items and bread. Plan to resume your diet the next day, because it is unlikely you will be able to find a calorie count for what you will be eating. Even the lighter meals served after church often consist of cold cuts, cheese and fresh-picked items such as fruits and vegetables, served from the family garden or an orchard.

Follow Cues

When dining, take cues from your hosts. For instance, if the dinner consists of a large group, the family might eat in shifts; often, adults eat first and children eat second, explains the Pennsylvania Dutch Convention & Visitors Bureau. Be comfortable with whatever customs your hosts have. In some Amish homes, the family does not routinely serve meals with napkins on the adult table. If you do not see napkins, do not ask for them.

Dress Conservatively

As a group, the Amish tend to be very conservative. In the company of the Amish, wear something simple and modest. A blouse and slacks or a blouse and skirt or a simple, modest dress is appropriate.

Don't Expect Alcohol

Never ask for alcohol at an Amish dinner table. Some sects do allow alcohol use, and some Amish even make their own wine. Other groups do not allow alcohol use at all. Err on the side of caution and do not ask for wine or beer. It is fine to accept alcohol if the hosts offer it with the meal. Drinks typically served with Amish meals are water, coffee, garden tea and occasionally fruit juices or soda.

Amish Meals

The Amish tend to grow their own fruits and vegetables, but they also serve beef, pork and chicken. Cheese and eggs are also a common source of protein at meals. Amish also buy dry goods from local stores and some may even eat at restaurants or fast food restaurants occasionally, reports Amish America.

About the Author

Kathy Gleason is a freelance writer living in rural northern New Jersey who has been writing professionally since 2010. She is a graduate of The Institute for Therapeutic Massage in Pompton Lakes, N.J. Before leaving her massage therapy career to start a family, Gleason specialized in Swedish style, pregnancy and sports massage.

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