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The Group Travel Leader Going on Faith Select Traveler

Culinary Meeting Encounters

In his book “Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook,” Anthony Bourdain writes, “Find out how other people live and eat and cook. Learn from them — wherever you go.”

Food tells the story of a place. Want to know about the region, the geography, the climate, the weather? Look at the food. Want to learn about a place’s history, its major industries, its agriculture? Look at the food. Want to discover the people? Do they have roots in Europe or Africa or South America? Eat the food they cook.

All travelers have their own way of getting to know an area, but few things can convey a sense of place the way food does. These culinary experiences tell the history of each city, narrate the people’s stories and allow meeting attendees to taste the local flavor.


Amana Colonies, Iowa

In 1855, German Pietists moved from New York to the isolated farmland of east-central Iowa, where they founded seven villages. They lived in a communal society, making — and sharing — nearly everything. The villages remained communal until 1932 and became the nation’s “most successful and longest communal society,” said David Rettig, executive director of the Amana Colonies Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Today, visitors can still experience the family-style meals similar to how the founders ate. Four restaurants — three in the villages and one on Interstate 80 — offer family-style dining and can accommodate groups of roughly 100 people. Entrees are served on individual plates, but the rest of the meal comes in large bowls that are passed around the table “like you would at your own family table,” Rettig said.

The restaurants specialize in German fare, including chicken, pork and veal schnitzels, which basically means “little cutlet.” Sauerbraten, smoked pork chops and sausages are all popular. Amana Colonies have a special bratwurst recipe “that was brought over from Germany,” Rettig said. There’s also plenty of sauerkraut, spaetzle and potato dumplings.

The Colony Inn offers a tour guide for groups, and the Ox Yoke Inn has a large meeting room downstairs. Ronnenburg Restaurant has an enclosed rooftop biergarten and a private event room.