Saturday, January 19, 2008
The picture above is one I took of a cookbook I've had for about five years. I don't know that I've ever made anything from this book, but I have sat down more than once to pour over the photos and read the essays.
You see, the author, the late Elizabeth Coblentz, wrote from her home near Berne, IN, not so far from me and a place I travel to frequently for work. Most amazingly, Elizabeth wrote this cookbook as an Old Order Amish grandmother, with no indoor plumbing or electricity for starters. That certainly did not dampen her abilities in the kitchen nor did it stop her from writing a weekly newspaper column for many years.
Today, more than 15 years later, that column is carried on by Elizabeth's daughter, Lovina Eicher, and is syndicated in hundreds of newspapers. It is a column I look forward to weekly in my local paper, The Warsaw Times-Union.
To make the story even more rich, the cookbook - one of many in a series now- and the column were "cooked" up in 2001 by a then-high school senior, Kevin Williams, the founder of Oasis Newsfeatures, Inc., who was doing a school paper on the Amish.
So where does the yodeling fit in? In this week's column, editor Williams directed readers to his site for an opportunity to hear an audio-only recording of the Eicher family yodeling. Naturally, I had to tune in. Williams was criticized for charging a fee for the download- which is temporary to respect Amish practices. It will expire and downloads will no longer work after Jan. 31. Pffft, I say to any criticism. If one or one's teenage offspring will pay to download unintelligible rap lyrics, one can pay to download yodeling. Enough on that.
Williams explains: "Yodeling is a distinctive form of singing with rich roots in European culture. In the United States, yodeling is becoming increasingly rare, slowly vanishing in today's increasingly modern society. Among the Old Order Amish yodeling was never widespread. Most Amish have Germanic roots where yodeling was never a common cultural emblem. A few Amish churches, however, have distinctly Swiss roots (Sugarcreek, Ohio: Adams County, Indiana; and Webster County, Missouri). The Amish in these communities speak a slightly different dialect, a Swiss Bernese German. And among these Swiss Amish, yodeling was brought over to the New World. Even today in these small enclaves of Amish, the tradition of yodeling still persists."
You can click the link above to go to the site to register to read the weekly column and/or listen to the yodeling. In this time of listening to so much bad news and tempting tax proposals, the yodeling was a welcome treat. It is only about three minutes and includes a solo by Lovina's husband Joe and a duet with Joe and Lovina. Highly recommended.