Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Latter-Day Chefs

[Food] As someone who dabbles in the culinary arts, Mormon cooking, I confess leaves me somewhere between confused and downright horrified.
Take for example potato casserole, which is also known, I'm told as funeral potatoes--since it gets served at burials I'd imagine, rather than, given the ingredients, it sends you to the grave.

Potato casserole, along with the aforementioned root vegetable, features a pint of sour cream, the ubiquitous (for Mormon cooks anyway) can of chicken/cream of celery or mushroom soup, shredded cheese, onions, melted butter and, to give it a crusty topping, corn flakes. Outside of the health issues eating this kind of food might offer, can anyone explain quite why so much of Mormon cooking tends towards the stodgy and bland? It seems to take the worst of American and English cooking and come up with a hybrid that ensures you put on pounds while having little to report in the way of taste.

And don't get me started on frog-eye salad with its endless cups of whipped topping and marshmallows ... (Stephen Dark)


  1. Stephen, I get the feeling you don't get out much, at least to the funeral circuit. Funeral potatoes are served to the grieving family at a lunch/dinner after the funeral, and are usually donated by families in the ward/neighborhood where the funeral was held.

    It's easy and tasty, and there's one advantage to its low status on the health scale--to the extent it clogs your arteries and shortens your life, it brings you just that much closer to being reunited with your departed loved one.

  2. After spending most of my life here -- 3/4 of it as a non-practicing Mormon (but with plenty of Mormon food and family functions in my background) I can offer a possible answer for you. I think that the fat-loaded, carbo-rich Mormon recipes were an answer to feeding huge families as cheaply as possible. Casseroles go a long way and they fill you up. Supplement that with home canning and vegetables from a big garden, and a family of 8, 10,12 can eat on a budget. I guess. Still doesn't explain why the food has to be so bad for you. I think I'll send a recipe for funeral potatoes in to "Cooking Light" magazine and ask their staff to convert it to low-fat, low-cal cooking!

  3. Stephen ... them's fightin' words! Funeral potatoes are delicious when prepared properly. Dave's mom serves them every Easter.

    With today's resurgence in comfort food--macaroni & cheese, et al--maybe funeral potatoes will start popping up on the menus at chic restaurants.
    --Brandon Burt


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