Historic Communal Dinners
Taste and experience our history
To efficiently feed the population of the seven villages it was decided that meals would be made and eaten together. This meant that there would need to be a series of kitchens and dining halls in each village. Each kitchen would be responsible to feed about 40 people, 5 times a day. Three full meals and two snacks. These communal kitchens were run by a “Kitchen Boss”, who would oversee the preparation and serving of the meals, the 2-3 acre garden connected to the kitchen, and canning of the fruits and vegetables for consumption in the colder months.
This system operated 24/7, 365 days of the year until the doors closed for the last time in 1932, at the end of the communal era. It was a slice of daily life that change forever in the Amana Colonies. From that moment on, the members would be cooking for themselves and in their own homes.
One by one the kitchens were converted into additional living quarters or storage space. As tourism increased in the 1960s, one restaurant owner felt it would be interesting for the visitors to see how the “Family Style” dining in his restaurant got started. He contacted a friend who hadn’t needed to remodel the old kitchen and dining hall that was connected to his house and asked if he could bring guests through for a look into the past. Over the years, the kitchen museum management was put into the hands of the Amana Heritage Society and tours are still available today.
To better understand those communal days you can now take a step back in time and experience a true communal meal in the Amana Colonies only surviving intact communal kitchen. The Amana Heritage Society offers this one-of-a-kind experience several times a month during the spring and summer. The menu is straight out of the collection of the original recipes used at that kitchen. The meal is prepared by the Amana Meat Shop using many local ingredients and served in the dining hall where 38 members of the community would eat their meals. Along with the meal will come interesting facts and stories of life in Middle Amana during the communal era.
Reservations are required for these special meals and be sure to check the schedule and plan your visit accordingly. This is an experience that is not to be missed, as you will not only be dining in the middle of history but you’ll also be tasting it.