Scrapple! You either love it or hate it. I grew up in the coal region and was raised to love it. #TEAMSCRAPPLE
Amy Strauss, a food and drink writer living in Philadelphia, is on a mission to demystify the breakfast meat in her new book Pennsylvania Scrapple: A Delectable History. She traces the history and culture of the Pennsylvania Dutch staple and checks-in on chefs who are creating exciting new ways to eat it.
Curious to know more, I sent Amy some questions.
Philly Grub: What compelled you to write about scrapple?
Amy Strauss: I wish I could say I came up with the idea myself, but I do take pride in the fact that I was identified as the girl for the job! Arcadia Publishing had been looking for a Philadelphia-based writer to pen a love letter to Pennsylvania’s beloved delicacy for their American Palate series, and through the power of social media, they found me. I attribute this partially to the fact that through my years as a food writer, I jumped at the opportunity to, somewhat poetically, write about my Pennsylvania Dutch heritage and its cherished, stick-to-your-ribs dishes. I’ve always been scrapple’s #1 fan girl, and it was a total thrill broadening my knowledge of the porky delight in exploration of its origination and recent resurgence among regional chefs.
PG: Whereabouts in PA Dutch country do you hail?
AS: I was born & raised in Barto, an “unincorporated community”—doesn’t even qualify for “town” status—of Berks County. Envisions endless rolling hills of farmland and lots of country-fresh scrapple!
PG: What is your favorite way to eat scrapple?
AS: Consider me a purist, but all I need to be happy is a thin slice of scrapple perfectly crisped in a skillet and with all the right crunchy edges and creamy center. I consider myself spicy if I throw a little duck or bacon fat in the pan. That’s not to say I don’t love a new scrapple adventure: I am not above scrapple fries, slices dredged in flour and “reinvented” scrapple made with—gasp!—not pork. Make life a delicious party and have more scrapple in every which way.
PG: What Philadelphia restaurants have the best scrapple menu item?
AS: Wow! This is like picking one of my favorite children. What is really cool is so many chefs make their own scrapple—at Kensington Quarters, Johnny Brenda’s, Jerry’s Bar, etc. If you want it classic—you know, a crispy slab cooked in all the right ways—go to Down Home Diner or Hungry Pigeon (Scott does the dredging-in-flour bit to his and it’s incredible). Want a sandwich? Go to Smucker’s Quality Meats & Grill in the Reading Terminal Market. It’s the most incredible, most messy ‘wich of bliss. Inventive takes on scrapple could be found at Double Knot with their duck scrapple bao buns topped with maple teriyaki and cukes, or at Cheu, who runs interesting takes on scrapple buns on special, including the recent combo with whipped goat cheese and caramelized onions. Then, there’s the guns in town doing scrapple vegetarian-style—is it sacrilegious to talk about that? Triangle Tavern does a killer take made with mushrooms that actually outsells the meaty version. I do continue to relay a serious investigation of scrapple in the city and interesting variations thrown on plate within my book.
PG: What do you say to the people who are repulsed by it?
AS: If you’re fond of pork—bacon, pork belly, sausage—give scrapple a chance. Scrapple has a bad rep partially due to being misunderstood and partially due to its “scrap”-meets-”crap” name. Honestly, it was one of the first dishes produced within the realm of nose-to-tail dining; it’s made with real, whole food; it’s slow food; it’s not just made with the “nasty bits”—chefs and producers are actually very selective of which parts of the pig are included. It’s ingredient statement is clean—you can grip up a package and understand every last real ingredient that went into your scrapple. Plus, it’s damn delicious and rocks a textural playground for your mouth. What more do you need?!
Amy’s got a few events coming up to promote the book including:
Scrapple Spectacular Book Signing and Demonstration on Sunday, October 15th at Grain Craft Bar & Kitchen in Kennett Square, PA
Happy Hour Book Signing on Thursday, October 19th at Urban Village in Philadelphia