Plain But Wholesome presents a groundbreaking foray into Mormon history. Brock Cheney explores the foodways of Mormon pioneers from their trek west through the arrival of the railroad and reveals new perspectives on the fasci-nating Mormon settlement era. Relying on original diaries, newspaper accounts, and recipe books from the 1850s, Cheney draws a vivid portrait of what Mormon pioneers ate and drank. Although other authors have sketched the subject before, this portrait is the first effort that might be described as scholarly, though the lively prose will interest a broad general audience.
Presented here are the first explicit descriptions of the menus, food processes, and recipes of the Mormon pioneers. While many have supposed that earlier pioneer foodways continued to be handed down through Mormon families, Cheney has confirmed traditions going back generations and covering more than a century. The book also exposes myths and clichés about pioneer piety and hardships, as Cheney examines such pioneer extravagances as fresh “oysters on the half shell” and pioneer trends of alcohol consumption.
A perfect gift for the history buff or Dutch oven chef, Plain But Wholesome will also prove its place among scholars and historians. With its rollicking blend of historical source material and modern interpretation, this book will entertain and educate novice and expert alike.
Brock Cheney teaches writing and literature in Utah’s public schools and has worked at several living history muse-ums in Utah and Colorado. He lives in Willard, Utah, where he keeps a vegetable garden and bakes bread in his wood-fired brick oven.
Praise and Reviews:
“Interesting and engaging to read. It decodes and explains many references to food in the historical record of the Mormon pioneer period.”—Benjamin C. Pykles, historic sites curator
—The Journal of Mormon History