Skip to main content
Intellect

For pandemic comfort eating, Utah is the plate: new book shows why

We may be in the middle of a global pandemic, but there is no way Utahns would ever give up their fry sauce!

This is the Plate book cover, with fries and dipping sauce as the background image.
BYU professor Eric Eliason co-authored this book about Utah food traditions.

Why fry sauce? Where does it come from? What other foods are distinctively Utahn? BYU English professor Eric Eliason explores the unique food patterns in Utah in a new book he co-authored entitled “This is the Plate.”

“During the pandemic, people turn to what they are familiar with,” said Eliason. As people have adjusted to life amid the coronavirus outbreak, they are finding their new “normal.” A huge part of this new normal is what and how people eat, including more people cooking in the home.

Earlier this year, the Wall Street Journal reported that comfort foods are seeing a resurgence as consumers seek familiarity and convenience during the coronavirus pandemic.

“In unique times, identity foods will emerge,” said Eliason.

There are several foods, like funeral potatoes, fry sauce and green Jell-O, that are distinctive to Utah culture.

Portrait of English professor Eric Eliason in his office with snacks at his desk.
Eric Eliason in his office at Brigham Young University this summer.


When Eliason was a student at BYU, he remembers having fry sauce for the first time and loving it.

“I went home to Denver to visit my family and when we decided to go out for burgers, I was excited and asked for fry sauce. The cashier looked extremely confused and said they only had ketchup,” Eliason said. “It was then that I realized he had no idea what fry sauce was because it was a distinctively regional food for Utah.”

With July being a popular month for family reunions and celebrations for Independence Day and Utah’s own Pioneer Day, traditional foods from little towns are usually made.

Along with specific types of food that are unique to Utah culture, Eliason and “This is the Plate” coauthors Carol Edison and Lynn McNeill talk about the do-it-yourself canning and food storage culture that has also boomed during the pandemic. Although already important in the lives of many members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, food storage has become even more crucial during the quarantine.

The first book-length treatment of Utah’s distinctive food heritage, this volume contains work by more than sixty subject-matter experts and features recipes and photographs of food and beverages.

As the pandemic continues to influence daily life, think about the traditional foods distinctive to your community and family. How has COVID-19 influenced what you choose to eat?

Green Jell-O and Fry Sauce: Food Folklore at the Fair

Related Articles
overrideBackgroundColorOrImage= overrideTextColor= overrideTextAlignment= overrideCardHideSection=false overrideCardHideByline=true overrideCardHideDescription=false overridebuttonBgColor= overrideButtonText= overrideTextAlignment=
overrideBackgroundColorOrImage= overrideTextColor= overrideTextAlignment= overrideCardHideSection=false overrideCardHideByline=true overrideCardHideDescription=false overridebuttonBgColor= overrideButtonText= overrideTextAlignment=
overrideBackgroundColorOrImage= overrideTextColor= overrideTextAlignment= overrideCardHideSection=false overrideCardHideByline=true overrideCardHideDescription=false overridebuttonBgColor= overrideButtonText= overrideTextAlignment=
overrideBackgroundColorOrImage= overrideTextColor= overrideTextAlignment= overrideCardHideSection=false overrideCardHideByline=true overrideCardHideDescription=false overridebuttonBgColor= overrideButtonText=