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Edible traditions are focus of interfaith dinner

About 20 people came to the Hagerstown church to sample food such as stollen, potatoes, apple sauce and meat entrees

December 12, 2012|By DAVE McMILLION | davem@herald-mail.com
  • Ed Branthaver, left, and Marge Poling, right, share in the annual Interfaith Coalition Holiday Traditions Dinner Wednesday night at Hagerstown Church of the Brethren.
By Joe Crocetta, Staff Photographer

Ed Poling remembers little waffle-like cookies baking on the stove during Christmas time at his home in Windber, Pa.

Poling, now senior pastor at Hagerstown Church of the Brethren, remembers those cookies, known as Pizzelles, as having a distinct taste due to anise that was added to them.

Poling figures the treats probably have an Italian origin, which makes sense given the diverse background of Windber, a community outside of Johnstown, Pa.

Windber was known for its coal mines and steel mills, and people from throughout Europe immigrated to the community for jobs, Poling said.

“People spoke all different kinds of languages. It was an interesting experience,” Poling said.

Poling shared the story about Pizzelles during the Interfaith Coalition Holiday Traditions Dinner at Poling’s church Wednesday night.

The second year for the dinner, people are invited to attend the feast and bring a dish that represented a holiday tradition.

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About 20 people came to the South Mulberry Street church at 6:30 p.m. to sample food such as stollen (a type of fruit cake), potatoes, apple sauce and meat entrees.

People who brought dishes explained the holiday traditions behind them, then everyone dug in.

Sandy Boyer brought meat balls based on a recipe her mother always used around the holidays at their home in Montgomery County, Md.

The meat balls started out with a traditional approach of mixing ground beef, eggs, bread crumbs, a little onion and salt and pepper. Then Boyer brings out the final touch: a mix of grape jelly and chili sauce.

The sweet mixture is drizzled over the meat balls.

“Don’t let that deter you,” Boyer said, explaining to the other guests the use of grape jelly and chili sauce. “It really works.”

Boyer said she remembers her mother serving the meat balls as an appetizer during the holidays.

“I guess because it was so quick and easy, it was one less thing she had to worry about,” Boyer said.

The Interfaith Coalition brings people of different faiths together in hopes that it will lead people to feel “a little more open to our neighbors,” said Boyer, who is the coordinator for the group.

The group meets regularly for activities like panel discussions related to faith.

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