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Icons of Mormon food

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A couple of years ago, I got a call from the compassionate service leader in our ward. She asked me if I would be willing to provide some food for a funeral the next day. I agreed to do it. She then informed me I needed to make a pan of “funeral potatoes.” My eyes twitched from side to side; I silently panicked. Oh, no, I was cornered.

I have been a member of the church my entire life, and I’ve even lived in Utah since I was 5. I’ve been to hundreds of ward activities, and I have eaten and even enjoyed "funeral potatoes," but I had no idea how to make them. How embarrassing. At 30 years old with several children of my own, I couldn’t mix cheese and potatoes and other stuff and end up with this Mormon staple.

I did eventually regain my composure, and this sweet lady explained to me the simple steps I should follow to produce the needed dish. If you, like me, need the recipe, try one from grouprecipes.com.

I was pretty proud of myself when I delivered my 9x13 pan to the ward kitchen the next day. They may not have been beautiful, but they were definitely “funeral potatoes.”

Since that day, I have realized how deprived my poor children are when it comes to traditionally Mormon foods.

Growing up, my mother made Jell-O of some sort to go with nearly every Sunday dinner. Sometimes the Jell-O had carrot shreds, sometimes it had marshmallows, but it usually graced the table. I don’t usually make Jell-O. I did once try to make Jell-O with floaty stuff in it for a party, but my floaties all clumped together, and it was a disaster. Besides, my kids won’t eat it. They will eat broccoli, but I can’t classify that as a Mormon food.

If you need some ideas to spice up your Jell-O, try some suggestions from molly-mormon.com.

Another Mormon essential that I don't make is “frog eye salad.” This salad – a loose interpretation of the word – involves Acini de Pepe, which is a tiny, round pasta that really does look and feel like frog eyes. OK, I’ve never actually handled frog eyes, but I can imagine they are quite similar. Add to the pasta some mandarin oranges, pineapple, marshmallows and some sweet sauce, and there you have “frog eye salad.”

It’s not bad. Apparently people outside of the LDS Church eat this, too, because even allrecipes.com has the directions. Some Mormon foods I just can’t get behind. For example, that casserole with green beans and hamburger and a sauce that probably starts with “cream of.” I just don’t like it. However, plenty of people serve it, so it must have a following.

From the dinner table to the serving table iconic Mormon foods show up everywhere. Some are fabulous, some are just plain weird, but there is a special place in our hearts — and stomachs — for each of these dishes.

Melissa DeMoux is a stay-at-home mother of six young children who lives in West Valley City, Utah. You can -mail her at mddemoux@gmail.com or follow her adventures in motherhood at demouxfamily.blogspot.com.