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Wait, what did I just eat? Food stories from Mormon missionaries

Published: Thursday, May 29 2014 3:21 p.m. MDT

A food combination I found strange at the time — during a missionary conference in Elizabeth City on the Atlantic Coast — was sandwiches made of slices of bread spread with mayonnaise and either sliced bananas or a slice of pineapple as the filling. At the time, I was amused at such a combination, but I soon began to look forward to conferences and more of these tasty sandwiches.

Brunswick stew, a food usually thought of as from the New England states, was a staple in the coastal section of North Carolina — mighty delicious. The Southern food must have agreed with me as I quickly gained extra pounds. I recall dozens of Southern cooks whose tables I had the privilege of sitting at many years ago.

— Clifford I. Alldredge, South Jordan; Central Atlantic States Mission, 1950-1952

‘Hot and spicy’

Alison Baxter was my name when I served in the South African Mission from 1961-63. I served three months in Pretoria, seven months as secretary to the mission president in the mission home office in Johannesburg, and several months in Durban.

It was a rare occasion for a group of missionaries to go to a restaurant for a meal. What prompted a few elders to invite two sister missionaries to share such an adventure, I will never knew.

Every menu entry briefly described a meal. One named “Monkey Gland Steak” caught my attention. Since we were in Africa and there were monkeys in the trees at many locations, this seemed like a cultural experience not to be missed.

When the food was served, it was not only hot but also spicy hot. After each taste, a draft of water mitigated the hot flames somewhat. Milk was brought to the rescue without much effect. Hot and spicy it was indeed.

The missionaries at the table were invited to share, but none obliged. Were the exceedingly hot spices necessary to camouflage the flavor of the monkey steak, I wondered, though I doubted that the meat originated from a monkey at all.

In retrospect, the hot spices were an influence of the Indian culture in South Africa. It was an experience well remembered with some humor to this day.

— Alison Baxter Larsen, South African Mission, 1961-63

Anything to share?

What can I say about food? Before my mission, I was spoiled about it. Simple homemade beans and rice warmed my heart and filled my soul with so much love and gratitude. Over there, someone once told me that when we don’t have anything to share, love is all we need indeed!

— Mulungu Zenon, Mozambique Maputo Mission, 2008-2010

Not like chicken

Kangaroo! And it did not taste like chicken. It was good.

— Maryann Barney Larkin, Australia Sydney South Mission

‘Cow hoof’ and gelatin

In Argentina, back in “ancient” times, there wasn’t much that I didn’t like. I had eaten all the organ meats most of my life, so that wasn’t new. Once we ate “cow hoof” sauteed with a sauce and served over rice. They boiled the hoof, took the gelatin out, diced the gelatin and served that with the gravy over rice. It was just like eating unflavored Jell-O. I loved most of the food down there. Still do.

— Cliff Russell, of Midlothian, Texas; North Argentine Mission, 1964-1966

Lizards and crickets

Lizards, crickets, frog — this is true and many more good stuff.

— Arturo Cabrera, Mexico Merida Mission, 1986-1988

Graciously accepting

At a branch banquet, I found myself being offered a dried fish to eat.

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