I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to visit so many Amish settlements over the years. This isn’t meant in the least in a boastful way, but when I think of the pure breadth of Amish communities I’ve visited, from remote Rexford, Montana to Unity, Maine and dozens and dozens in between I think you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone – Amish or not – who has been to as many plain communities as I. Again, that’s not meant as a challenge to anyone:) There are some Amish settlements I’ve been to where I’ve thought to myself “wow, I’m not too crazy about this place, I can’t wait to leave” (those will remain nameless, because I’ve met truly wonderful people everywhere) and other settlements I’ve come away completely smitten and practically wanting to move there. Aylmer, Ontario and it’s daughter settlement of Lindsey/Glenarm are two that I just love, although on each occasion (separate years, ironically) we visited in the dead of winter when the towns were in the deep freeze. I would eagerly go back to either locale when it’s warm, I would imagine either of those places are God’s country in the spring or summer.
I have visited so many Amish and Mennonite food businesses through the years: bakeries, bulk food stores, candy-makers…but the above photo captures one of my favorite Amish country businesses: Menno-Mex on the eastern edge of Aylmer. Aylmer is a tiny town but a bubbling cultural cauldron of plain…there is a large contingent of Russian-Mennonites with their European features and distinctive dress, an equally sizable community of traditional Old Order Amish, and still a bunch of Mexican Mennonites who have returned from south of the Rio Grande to live. It’s a community coursing with a “plain diversity” unseen elsewhere. Many of the Mexican Mennonites, fair-featured as they are, still crave the staples they grew up on. It’s this group of returnees that was the inspiration behind Menno-Mex a store that sells typical plain food and wares alongside jalapenos, tamales, and Mazapan chocolates. Truly a unique – and as the photo shows – colorful store to visit. Have any of our readers been to Aylmer or Lindsay? If so, what are some of your favorite stops?
SIGH, my one regret is not getting a recipe for caramel-walnut pie t from an Amish man in Aylmer. He had offered to run inside to get it from his wife, but being in kind of a hurry I passed up on that…bet it was good!