U. researcher studying what Mormons eat and why

Utahn Kate Holbrook spends a lot of time thinking about food.

No, Holbrook is not a Beehive State version of Martha Stewart. She is not on a diet or hawking a cookbook. She is working on her doctoral dissertation, "Radical Food: Mormon Foodways and the American Mainstream."

Holbrook brings unusual training to the topic. She received a master's degree in theological studies with a focus on comparative religion from Harvard Divinity School in 2001 and currently is concentrating her doctoral studies at Boston University on religion and society.

Now the University of Utah's Tanner Humanities Center has awarded her its new Fellowship in Mormon Studies to spend a year exploring the connection between what she sees as a somewhat distinctive Mormon cuisine and the LDS Church's theology, rituals and practices.

Consider the two most stereotypical Mormon dishes -- Jell-O and so-called "funeral potatoes" (a potato and cheese casserole).

Consuming a lot of Jell-O means Mormons like food "that is sweet, that appeals to a large number of people, including children, is easy to prepare and inexpensive, and travels well either to large family dinners or church social occasions," Holbrook says. "It also shows Mormons value celebrations. Jell-O is festive -- it's colorful, and it wiggles."

Read the rest of this story at sltrib.com
Comments and feedback can be sent to feedback@ldsliving.com