There’s nothing quite like comfort food, but just what "comfort food" is depends on where you’re from.
Members and guests of the Nodaway County Historical Society met at the group’s museum in Maryville Saturday to sample regional desserts and learn about favorite dishes from around the world — especially the world of the Pennsylvania Dutch.
The event was the latest installment in the society's Dessert Day program, which takes place one weekend a month throughout the summer.
One of the afternoon's sweet treats was shoo-fly pie, a traditional after-dinner dish prepared by one of the speakers, Elyssa Ford, who teaches history at Northwest Missouri State University.
"It's called shoo-fly pie because it’s supposed to be so sweet that it attracts flies and you have to shoo them away," said Ford, who used a Pennsylvania Dutch recipe handed down from her great-grandmother.
"The version I make is a little different than others because it's a dry-bottom pie versus a wet-bottom one," she said.
The dish has molasses mixed in so it is more like a crumb cake. Other recipes are prepared in a way that lets the molasses gather at the bottom of the crust.
According to Ford, Pennsylvania Dutch foods come from the southeastern part of Pennsylvania and are not traditionally as popular in other parts of the state.
“Scrapple” is another delicacy from the region. The dish is made from various meat products left over after butchering.
"The meat is mixed with cornmeal and made into a loaf that you slice, fry and pour syrup on," Ford said. "It's the kind of thing you might not enjoy unless you grew up eating it," she said.
Ford shared tips and recipes for a number of other Pennsylvania Dutch treats such as chipped beef, Lebanon bologna, whoopee pies and pickled eggs made with beets and birch beer (which comes from birch bark).
"It's like root beer, only better," Ford said.
according to food writer David Rosengarten, the Pennsylvania Dutch country, centered in and around Lancaster County, Penn., is among "a short list of regions in the United States where regional food is actually consumed on a daily basis."
Dishes prepared in the region have long been associated with the area's agrarian society and devotion to carefully preserved cultural and family traditions.