MIFFLINBURG — Nothing about the sausage, macaroni, soup or jerky served in the banquet hall at the First Church of the Nazarene in Mifflinburg on Saturday appeared out of the ordinary — until one took a peek at the menu.
Included in these 18 dishes were exotic meats and fish like rattlesnake, pigeon, kangaroo, alligator and eel.
That’s what lured Millmont residents Jason and Bethany Morford to the church on a chilly evening.
“I like exotic food and overall, this is very good,” said Jason Morford, a pastor and former nursing home cook who says he’s adventurous when it comes to food.
Bethany Morford grew up with a mission family in Ukraine and has a similar palate.
“This is all good,” she said.
It’s the sixth consecutive year the church has held the dinner to raise money to send more than a dozen children to church camp in the summer.
Ed Mitch and Scott Swanger organize the event and cook the food, mostly purchased with donations. More than $300 was raised Saturday.
Rattlesnake has been a crowd favorite, Mitch said, and this year they offered rattlesnake sausage that many raved about.
Fans of the dish were Ann Nowaskie, of Coal Township, who enjoyed the dining experience at the church so much last year that she came again with her mother, Kay Nowaskie, also of Coal Township.
Swanger, Mitch and other volunteers served plates to a long line of customers as Swanger’s wife, Robin, cleaned up in the kitchen.
“I had Chinese food for dinner,” she said, nixing the gopher jerky, pigeon pot pie, camel hot dogs and alligator potato salad.
Darlene Sycz, of Middleburg, wasn’t wary of any of the dishes and found all of them appetizing to look at and tasty.
“The alligator is delicious,” she said, taking another bite. “It tastes like chicken.”
Sycz couldn’t figure out the source of the “mystery meat” she sampled, which turned out to be alpaca.
Even 10-year-old Levi Scutt, of Lewistown, was impressed with the rabbit ear lasagna and kangaroo pockets after being enticed into attending the dinner by his father, Gary.
“He told me we’d be eating some rattlesnake,” Levi said, adding the only item he didn’t like was the chestnuts in the wild boar and bacon wraps.
Diners who saved room had an array of sugary deserts to choose from after the exotic meal.
“I made a hummingbird cake,” Mitch quipped, “but there’s no birds in it.”
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