January 31, 2012
Mormon Cuisine?
Posted by Gordon Smith

Last week the NYT wrote about "Mormon Cuisine." Having grown up in Wisconsin and outside of the LDS Church, I don't have childhood memories of Mormon meals, but I have been to my share of pot luck dinners as an adult. Marrying into a family that descended from Mormon pioneers, I quickly learned that water is the drink of choice with evening meals (we always drank milk in Wisconsin); jello is a salad, not a dessert; and Sunday meals consist of roast beef, mashed potatoes, and cooked veggies.

The NYT story was focued on traditional food, but I was thinking about this today as I ate lunch at The Banana Leaf, a new Sri Lankan restaurant in Provo. While many Utah restaurants, like Chuck-A-Rama, still specialize in Mormon comfort food, the ethnic restaurant options in Provo have exploded since my student days at BYU. I assume both the demand for and the supply of more exotic options is at least partly a result of the expansion of the Church.

But it's also true that the more traditional fare is much better than 20 years ago. For a much improved version of meat, potatoes, and veggies, Communal (featured in the NYT story) is excellent, as is the Tree Room at Sundance. For a less pricey meal, there's La Jolla Groves. Even the cheap eats, like pizza, burritos, hot dogs, and whatever Guru's Cafe is serving are better than the older options. I am not sure people here are "redefining Mormon cuisine" so much as discovering (a bit later than the rest of the world) the joys of good food.

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