“For a long time, anytime I had the opportunity to write about Pennsylvania Dutch culture and the food of my culture – I would,” said Amy Strauss, food and drink writer. Her first book, “Pennsylvania Scrapple: A Delectable History” hit bookshelves on Monday, Oct. 9.
Strauss, a Barto native and 2003 graduate of Boyertown Area Senior High School, has been heavily covering the Philadelphia food scene for the past 10 years since college and recently drew the attention of a local publisher through the power of social media.
“It just so happens that the acquisitions editor of my publishing company, Arcadia Publishing, happened to find me, researched me and all of the Pennsylvania Dutch articles I wrote about. She approached me about writing a book about scrapple.”
Strauss explained how Arcadia Publishing, especially the history press division of the publishing company, likes to focus on regional, specific dishes.
“They recognize that scrapple is such a phenomenon for the Philadelphia region, and you know, the East Coast mostly Mid-Atlantic Region, they really thought it would be a great piece for them to represent that in their American Palette Food Series. I felt honored to write about it.”
A project which hits close to home, she said when she called her dad to tell him about the project she felt as though he was never more excited.
The book addresses the history of scrapple, how it’s prepared, and opinions on how it should and shouldn’t be served.
“I kind of did a natural arc of scrapple. I did a huge exploration of the history of it – how it came to America and how it became what it is today. Then I travel to current day, so I talk about how different chefs really have clung onto it to keep it as a trendy breakfast staple and the different unique things chefs have done with it to keep it in the public eye.”
She uncovered some likely unknown facts about the popular, regional breakfast meat – such as the effort to mass produce it and how in the late 1800s, a man wrote to the “New York Times” about it. Strauss said the letter prompted quite the discussion; the newspaper published letters about scrapple for weeks and eventually even published a recipe for it.
The book also includes a personal story about making 300 pounds of scrapple on a friend’s family farm.
“What I tried to really do with the book -- you can’t take scrapple too seriously. I tried to have fun with it, and I’m trying to do that with the signings and book events.”
Coming up next month, Strauss will be hosting a book signing at Firefly Bookstore in Kutztown on Saturday, Nov. 18, from 3-5 p.m. A Signing & Scrapple Pop-up at Shorty’s Sunflower Café is also set to be held in November. The exact date is yet to be announced. Check out Strauss’’s website for full list of events.