Thursday, June 11, 2009

Why every Mennonite loves relief sales

I meant to get this post up soon after my house-hunting trip to Kitchener but here I am two weeks later and still. not. done. Much like everything else going on lately, it is being done half-assed.

But I still think it's worth talking about Mennonite relief sales. These things, particularly the one held every year in New Hamburg (known around Ontario just as The Relief Sale), is a bit of a mecca for anyone of the Mennonite persuasion. There are three main foci to The Relief Sale: raising money for Mennonite Central Committee programs (ie relief programs around the world for anyone in need) and every cent raised at The Relief Sale goes to these programs, the quilt auction (Mennonites and quilts together? who knew?), and food, food, food. Did I mention food? Cuz there is lots of food. Lots of fried, smoked, bad for you but oh, so good, food. All those tents below, are mainly food tents. Different Mennonite churches from around southern and south-western Ontario run tents making one specialty each.

Mennonite food, particularly Russian Mennonite, which is what is mainly represented at The Relief Sale, is mainly variations of fried bread. This is due to the fact that Mennonites in Russia were poor for a really long time and had to make do with what they had. So, we've got rollkuchen (fried twisted dough great with watermelon), tea balls (kind of like timbits but better), donuts, cream buns and then the non-fried realm of pies. And then there is meat of course. Lots and lots of meat. Elias was into the donuts.

Of course, if you think Mennonites are only European in origin, you'd be wrong. One of the most popular food items in recent years is made by the Laotian Mennonite Church. They make the best spring rolls and the line-up proves it.

At The Relief Sale, the most popular item has to be the fresh strawberry pies. My new favourite this year was the barbecued chicken (real barbecue... smoked for a long time. So good). I saw the smoker below (and smelled it) immediately and knew I had to taste whatever was going to come out of it. I was not disappointed.

We popped into the quilt auction (to get in the strawberry pie line - see second picture below) and then visited several food tents and the Ten Thousand Villages tent for me to buy teacher gifts.

And that was pretty much how we spent our time. Oh, there is one other thing everyone does at The Relief Sale: talk to other Mennonites that they haven't seen in a while. When arriving at The Relief Sale there are always bets traded on who will see the most people they know. It's kind of The Relief Sale edition of The Mennonite Game.

I was really happy to be there this year and will definitely be there, family in tow, next year too. Even just for the barbecued chicken.

And so, that was our morning at The Relief Sale.


Julie said...

I'm sitting here salivating. Want some visitors this time next year? ;-)

Shan said...

That looks like a pretty sweet way to spend a day.