Following our week-long stay in Beantown, The Astronomer and I flew to Philadelphia for the Swarthmore Cross Country Alumni Meet. Living in Los Angeles, we rarely get the chance to see our former teammates who’ve settled on the opposite side of the country. This annual pilgrimage gives us valuable face time with our bestest friends, all while running on the most dreadful 5K course ever. Oh, and we get to eat hoagies and pizza and acquire cheesy “Swarthmore Alum” flare, too. It’s a fantastic time. Really!
On the morning of the race, The Astronomer and I went out for breakfast at the Dutch Eating Place located inside Reading Terminal Market. When we were greeted with a packed house, it seemed like my dream of an authentic Pennsylvania Dutch breakfast wasn’t in the cards. The line fortunately moved fairly quickly, so we were able to grab a bite without missing our train.
Inside Reading Terminal Market, there are dozens of merchant families from Lancaster County of Amish and Mennonite background, as well as more secular strains of Pennsylvania Dutch. One of the more popular “Amish” stalls is the Dutch Eating Place, which is known for its blueberry pancakes, egg sandwiches, apple dumplings, fresh cut fries, deli sandwiches, and scrapple.
The Astronomer and I have vastly different race day rituals. Whereas I prefer a belly full of carbohydrates, my boy likes to keep his stomach as empty as possible. I ordered a short stack of blueberry pancakes ($3.75) and a side of scrapple ($2.25), while The Astronomer sat patiently and watched me eat it.
I began by removing the ginormous pat of butter served alongside my pancakes. I love butter dearly, but my arteries needed to be in tip-top form for the impending battle. The pancakes were huge, fluffy, and appealing in that spongy, simple carbohydrate kind of way. Real maple syrup would’ve made them even better.
Next, I moved onto the scrapple. The porky loaf made from “everything but the oink” was sliced thinly and deep-fried till brown and crispy. It tasted fine enough, but its texture was a bit harsh. On a ten point scale of deliciousness, the scrapple pulled in a lowly 2.5.
To wash away my scrapple breath, I ordered a hot apple dumpling ($2.75). The apple dumpling was terrific because it contained an entire piece of fruit (peeled and cored), which was tenderly baked and wrapped in a flaky crust. Topping it all off was a gooey pool of butter, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg, and a cap of whipped cream. I could only fit in a few bites, so we packed the rest to-go.
Even with all this Amish goodness swimming in my belly, I am proud to report that I didn’t heave or vomit during the race. Victory!
The Dutch Eating Place is open on Wednesdays from 8 AM to 3 PM and Thursday through Saturday from 8 AM to 5 PM.
Dutch Eating Place at Reading Terminal Market
1200 Arch Street
Philadelphia, PA 19102