LANCASTER, Pa. (AP) — Lancaster's rolling hills are steeped in the traditions of the Amish — their plain dress and humility as much a tourist lure as their quilts and pies.
But, as an iconic symbol, this Lancaster image could need a revision. Instead of Zerbe's potato chips, think chicharrones. Egg casserole? How about chilaquiles. Pulled pork? Did someone say lechón asado?
Increasingly, the flavors of this south-central Pennsylvania region — famous for its mud sales and outlets — bear a marked Latin accent that goes beyond language and cuisine.
Latinos have forged a foothold in Lancaster County. In recent years, their population numbers have quietly surpassed that of the Amish.
About 45,000 Latinos live in Lancaster County, according to the 2010 census. The census does not track the Amish or plain communities in Lancaster County. But in 2010, the Elizabethtown College center that studies the Amish estimated about 30,000 living in Lancaster County.
The Latino population in Lancaster County has grown by 68 percent in the last 10 years, the fifth-largest gain in Latinos statewide.
In the city of Lancaster, nearly two out of every five city residents identify their ethnicity to Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba and other Latin American countries.
About half of the county's Latinos live in the city. The city's Latino population grew to 23,329 in the last census, an increase of 35 percent.
The growth goes beyond the city.
These days, small grocery stores catering to Latinos dot the farm roads that wind through sprawling Amish farm country. Route 322 just east of Ephrata is horse-and-buggy domain, but "La Borimex" offers an outpost for tamales and other Mexican foods. A new restaurant, "Aromas Del Sur," offers Colombian fare just down the road from the Ephrata Cloister, the landmark site preserving the religious community established by German settlers in the 1700s.
The county boasts two Spanish-language radio stations and a newspaper. Stop at a nearby fast-food joint, and the staff that waits on you is bound to be completely Latino.
Latinos have established businesses and cultural networks, securing positions on City Council and leadership of the school district. The Lancaster General Hospital website offers Spanish translation, and the city is home to the only officially Latino-designated Catholic parish in the Harrisburg Diocese.
"Hispanics are becoming more and more engaged, invited and more of a participant in the wider community," said the Rev. Allan Wolfe, pastor at San Juan Bautista Church, which offers 10 scheduled weekly Masses — all but one in Spanish. His parishioners come from all over the county.