Dietrich’s Meats and Country Store: A Meat Mecca

I’ve been going to Dietrich’s Meats for decades (it’s been in business since the early 1970s). It’s the best place to buy unusual meats, local specialties, and lard. I have written before about the somewhat surly Pennsylvania Dutch staff (which brings out the affection in me) and the store’s lard (it’s the only place I would ever buy it). Once when I was in Maine, I met an older gentleman who said he made a pilgrimage once a year to Dietrich’s, and bought all his favorites in bulk. In the freezer section, you can find everything from frozen chicken feet to guinea hens. :-(

There are the expected jars of pickled beets, chow-chow, and sauerkraut, right next to the pickled pig snouts, lamb tongues, and…guinea hearts! Basically, at Dietrich’s nothing goes unused. In the fresh meat case, they have all the baloneys and salamis and jerky, as well as smoked meats. In fact the whole place smells like smoked meats. It could be because of the smoked pig’s head they have on the pet treat table….

Anyway, last week I finally got to meet Mrs. Verna Dietrich herself. You’ve got to respect a woman who more than twice mentions with affection “the guys on the kill floor.” Yes, the store butchers its own meat, and you can see the butcher area behind the glass behind the counter. I was there to get chipped dried beef for my Sh*t on a Shingle recipe (it’s the only place I would ever buy it), so Dana and I decided to videotape the visit. Mrs. Dietrich is the only one in the store who was willing to be on camera. And now I know why.

I snapped Mrs. Dietrich’s picture, but she made me take it again because she didn’t like how the first shot looked.

It turns out in her old age (she’s in her 80s) she’s become a bit of a celebrity. She showed me the recent photo of herself in Bon Appétit magazine. And then she asked me if I knew Corby Kummer. She knows him and he’s been to Dietrich’s, and she was in his book The Pleasures of Slow Food. Well, here’s the sad truth: I don’t KNOW Corby Kummer. I know OF him, and have seen him on stage at the Slow Food Nation Festival, where he translated for Carlo Petrini. Mrs. Dietrich ships her lard to all those guys, she told me. She ships lard to California and even to Alaska.

 

But once we started talking about food…well, it was hard to stop. She makes her creamed chipped dried beef using bacon drippings. When I mentioned that I use olive oil she made the same face I made when she asked me to try her liverwurst. I declined, and she said, “Don’t make that face in here.” Ahhh, the pleasures of home. Then, she showed me what she had been working on while she was sitting behind her desk in the office when I came in: cleaning field peas and beans! She says she boils them until they are tender, pours off the water, and then adds a bit of butter and cream. Yum.

Anyway, I bought my meats, two cookbooks including the William Woys Weaver one Mrs. Dietrich insisted I buy (I was going to anyway!), and some chicken feet gummy worms that taste pretty bad but are so strange looking they are fun to have around in case I need to freak someone out.

Oh, I just love Pennsylvania.

Print Friendly Version of this pageGet a PDF version of this webpage

Related Posts:

9 Responses to Dietrich’s Meats and Country Store: A Meat Mecca

  1. Jean Nick a.k.a. Rodale's Nickel Pincher October 6, 2010 at 12:09 pm #

    Gotta get me some gummy chicken feet! My son ate all gummy teeth/mini-dentures I got…LOL

  2. Laura K. October 6, 2010 at 12:17 pm #

    LOVE the tour! I have always wanted to stop here to get some lebanon bologna. Their sign by the highway always makes me smile as did this post!

  3. Renee October 6, 2010 at 12:24 pm #

    Maria – My stories of Verna Dietrich go way back to my pre-Rodale days – and that’s more than 20 years ago. She was a character then – and it sounds like that hasn’t changed! But I loved her. She was refreshingly real – and sounds like she’s even more so now – before everyone seemed to get disturbingly the same.
    One quick story: I remember the planning for someone’s wedding back in the day – a daughter or son of hers although I can’t quite remember – and the reception they were having to celebrate. When we talked about the food, she said it wouldn’t be very challenging. Everyone would pitch in and they had to feed only about 400 people. Perfect country attitude about food, family and festivities, right?

  4. Donna in Delaware October 6, 2010 at 12:27 pm #

    The next time I’m up that way, I’ll drop in. Thanks.

  5. Tricia October 6, 2010 at 5:20 pm #

    I’ve always passed by the sign for the store and never stopped. I can’t believe what I’ve been missing! What I thought was just a local butcher is clearly such a gem. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Jeffery October 7, 2010 at 4:00 pm #

    The leaf lard is the best! And talk about Dutch frugality. They used to wear their butcher knives down until they were only half an inch wide. Then, they would pile them up in the store and sell them for $1.00 rather than throw them away.

  7. Sue November 30, 2010 at 6:19 pm #

    You really need to try Peters Bros. in ‘down town’ lenhartsville. Dietrich’s is great – but Peters has the best smoked ham & lebanon bologna.

  8. Kathleen Knockstead March 14, 2012 at 8:28 pm #

    The greatest place you would ever want to visit.
    I live in the outskirts of Reading Pa which is maybe a 25 minute ride but never went until March 9,2012
    What fun I have my picture with Verna too.

  9. Kathleen Knockstead April 14, 2012 at 10:20 am #

    I am going back again to see what Summer brings to the store. I have a connection to Verna because they bought quite a bit of land from my late Husband’s Uncle and his wife, whom I think Mrs. Knockstead, is related some how to the Dietrichs. Verna talks very fast and does NOT like to repeat! You have to get it the first time. It is worth it to go for the entertainment, not to mention their high quality meats!

Leave a Reply