Annapolis Gets Taste Of Amish

Pennsylvania Dutch Market Opens Today

March 21, 1991|By Angela Gambill | Angela Gambill,Staff writer

The Amish have came to Annapolis, bearing fresh-baked bread, homemade soup, barbecued chicken and mounds of cheese.

But the food isn'tthe only attraction the Pennsylvania Dutch bring from Lancaster County, Pa.

They bring themselves -- bearded men in broad-brimmed straw hats,smiling women in long skirts and white aprons, children dressed likeminiature versions of their parents.

The market opens today off Route 2 in the new Annapolis Harbour Center, a building bright with sea-green shingles and a two-story windmill.

It looks a bit like a fairy castle, and the interior of the new spread is equally charming. Blue and white tiles cover the floor. Flowers etch out a pink-and-white candy corner. Friendly Amish families work at fruit and seafood stands, make funnel cakes and roll out the dough for homemade doughnuts.

"I'm all excited. I've been down here for 22 days straight, and I thought we would never get ready," says manager Aaron Beiler. "It'sthe same bunch of people, just a new location."

High rent forced the market from its Eastern Shore location in January.

They were sorry to leave, after eight years there, but the new place has 3,000 more square feet, giving each stand a little more room, explains Beiler.

In addition to the nine stands they've always had, the market has added "Fisherman's Seafood" from the Fisherman's Inn restaurant outside Annapolis.

Otherwise, everything is the same, right down to Anna Mary Lapp's soup. Lapp, mistress of Lapp's Farm Restaurant in the market, was busy yesterday cooking up soups from scratch -- chickencorn, cauliflower-broccoli, ham and bean.

In between unpacking boxes and checking off lists and preparing food, Lapp put the finishing touches to a four-wall mural of farming scenes.

Now she can work-- and the customers dine -- surrounded by scenes reminiscent of herhome near Lancaster: Dark Amish trousers flap on a line outside a red-brick farmhouse. Green fields surround a white-washed barn.

Lapp, a part-time artist, painted the winter, fall and spring seasons in about eight days.

Across the way, another Beiler family -- not related to Aaron -- unloaded an endless variety of cheeses into spotlessglass cases.

"We sell cheesecakes, too, and warm doughnuts we've made by hand," says Katie Ann Beiler. Two of her four children playedunderfoot as she and her husband, Amos, got ready for opening day.

"I usually bring one or two. They all like to come, but I can't handle all four," she says.

One day of the week, her husband's parents help at the market; another day her parents help, adds Katie Ann. Her nieces also work here.

"It's kind of all family," she says.

Perhaps it's a good thing, considering the 70 workers travel 100 miles to get to the market three times a week.

Because of the rules against driving, they must hire trucks and drivers to haul them and their goods every Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

"Everybody here is of the old order; we all use horses and buggies," explains manager Beiler.

The Amish church still requires that members forgo such amenities as cars and tractors, electricity, public schools, radio and television, telephones and store-bought clothes.

"Some people have asked me if we just wear the clothes, but we're real. At home we don'thave electricity," says Beiler, a merry man with a long brown beard.

But the liberal wings of the church increasingly are permittingsome Amish to participate in the modern economy, he adds. For example, the market is equipped with telephones, electricity, refrigerators and a microwave oven.

Such conveniences help the Amish keep their fresh food fresh: the sausages hanging from the ceiling, the barbecued hams and spareribs, the homemade noodles.

But the soul of the place, the gentle manners and smiling faces, come from someplace more traditional, speculates Beiler.

"A lot of people tell me it's the atmosphere they come for. We try hard to smile and be friendly," he sayshopefully.

The manager works from 4 a.m. to 10 p.m. on the days the market is open, and he misses seeing his five children, but he also loves the business.

"We try," he says. "We try to handle the best, really good food."

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