By Kevin Williams
I was exploring the hills and hollows of Deep East Kentucky last week, poking around Hazard and Harlan on assignment for another news organization that I moonlight for in my spare time. While Kentucky is home to a large scattering of Amish settlements they generally are found west of I-75 with the exception of Mason County and around Flemingsburg. The Amish were far from my mind as I headed through the rock-ribbed coal-caked mountains near Hazard. Certainly there’d be no trace of the Amish in this unforgiving part of the state. But then I saw it: a small, cheap cardboard sign that said “Amish Deli” with an arrow. Intrigued, I turned and followed the sign. The detour would probably make me later than I was already running but I wasn’t about to not explore.
So this sort of brings one to the philosophical question of what is an “Amish business?” So the best way to think about it is to imagine a Chinese restaurant run by maybe a husband and wife who are clearly not Chinese. Well, if the food is authentically Chinese and good then I guess I don’t see anything wrong with calling it a Chinese restaurant. Although from reading about the restaurant it looks like they have things on the menu like gyros and pasta alfredo, neither of them dishes you’d be likely to find in many Amish homes. That is where I think, my opinion only, that if you are not Amish and operating an Amish restaurant or not Chinese and running a Chinese restaurant you have an extra responsibility to portray a culinary cultural accurately. While I don’t want to disparage this place, it just seems a little misleading. Still, from reading reviews on TripAdvisor it seems like…..I don’t know….I really wish it had been open when I was there, it was about 8 a.m, again I don’t want to disparage the place, they had plenty of good TripAdvisor reviews. I’m just ambivalent about calling something an Amish deli if there’s no Amish connection.
But my intrigue satisfied I headed back on the road for a town called Whitesburg, once again shutting out any Amish references. I thought for sure that would be my last Amish encounter in these hills, but not five minutes later that would change again. Stay tuned tomorrow for Part II. Who would have thought I would have had so many Amish run-ins in Hazard?