Missionary Food

January 10, 2007 | 63 comments
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“Moulding Surprise” was a stomach-churning concoction of pasta, ketchup, shredded cheese, vinegar, and spices. It probably had other ingredients, too, but I can’t remember anymore. Though I never sampled the dish (which was named for the inventive missionary, not for the British spelling of “molding”), several of my companions ate it regularly.

The mention of Jim’s “Philosophy of Food” course and Greg’s link to “an appreciation of a man who has fed thousands of missionaries” (i.e., the “ramen noodle guy”) has caused me to reflect on missionary food. We had other, more appetizing, traditions than Moulding Surprise in Austria. For breakfast, we made our own muesli, which we smothered in yogurt. Or, on days when we needed a hot breakfast, I would prepare Grieß (cream of wheat) or Haferflocken (oatmeal) with cream and honey.

For lunch, we were usually away from the apartment, and we often stopped by a local grocery store, where we could order a sandwich to go. This was great fun for a boy from Osseo, Wisconsin who had never seen a deli. The bread was a Semmel (aka “Brötchen“), and we selected the meat and cheese from a vast array, sliced to order. The mustard in Austria was nothing like that yellow stuff of my youth, and I have never been satisfied with French’s since my mission. On many days, I drank 500 grams of yogurt to wash the sandwich down, then finished the meal by eating a Milka chocolate bar.

Strangely, I don’t remember much about the dinners, except when we were invited to eat with members. We ate lots of soup in the apartment, more than I ever had eaten growing up. My first companion, a native German, taught me to eat topfen (aka “quark“) with jam on fresh bread. I learned to love apricot jam on my mission. I wonder why most Americans eat so little apricot jam.

The one dinner that was infamous in the Austria Vienna Mission was Cordon Bleu from Gasthaus Schmidt in the 8th District. For some reason, this little restaurant went by the name “Herb’s” among the missionaries, though I could never understand why. In any event, the Cordon Bleu was huge, at least a foot in diameter. And cheap. For a mission conference, we ordered something like a hundred of them. When my mission president saw the ensuing debauchery, he felt ashamed. The missionaries, on the other hand, reveled in the cultural immersion.

When I returned the U.S., the eating habits that I established on my mission faded quickly. The yogurt is different here, and topfen is hard to find. Plus, I like the idea that my Austrian food memories are linked to a place that is so important to me. Though I occasionally buy a small jar of apricot preserves or a Milka bar (which are easy to find in our new global markets), most of the time I reserve those treats for my memory. And the always-hoped-for return to my second home.

63 Responses to Missionary Food

  1. Ronan on January 10, 2007 at 5:57 am

    Gordon,
    When did you serve in Austria? I am a 95-97 alumnus (Knittelfeld, Wien II, Wien IV, Mission Home, Wels, Gmunden). I’m now back here in Vienna for a year and enjoying the Speise very much. Our lunches were almost identical to yours. We also ate a lot of fried toastbrot with cheese and ham, and made pasta with sour cream and Vegeta. I love the soups here and the salads with Kerbiskernoel. Schnitzel too. And yes, we used to go to Herbs.

  2. Russell Arben Fox on January 10, 2007 at 9:25 am

    Mmmm, Korean food. The bibimpap (rice with bean sprouts, noodles, vegetables, some meat and lots of spicy red pepper paste) served in hot stone bowls, with a cracked egg frying on top. The still boiling kimchi soup (which was a delight when done right, but too often was watery and weak). And of course bulgoki and all the rest.

    But we’re talking missionary food, right? I didn’t exactly dine on good Korean cuisine every night. For one thing, it was cheaper to keep the rice cooker in the corner of the apartment filled, make sure you were stocked up on dried seaweed and kimchi, and just eat that morning, noon, and night. Or make some cheap soup with tofu and rice cakes. Of course, we Americans would make grilled cheese sandwiches or eggs or whatnot when we tired of the rice. I can remember regularly stopping by a shop and buying a small bread snack–a lightly sugared muffin, almost–after an extreme hot and spicy meal, just to clear and cool down my mouth. I knew an elder who received packets of Ranch dressing mix from home, and they were treasured items, anything to improve the taste of our boiled potatoes. And for breakfasts, a couple of other missionaries and I, tiring of the very limited selections of cold cereals available, got into the habit of buying a couple of cheap packets of chocolate chip cookies, crumbling them into a bowl, and adding milk. (It was really good if you ate it quickly, but get distracted by a phone call and it would turn into a lumpy mush.) Ah, good times.

  3. Mark B. on January 10, 2007 at 10:19 am

    Whatever you ate, it’ll never hold a candle to a bag of “pan no mimi” morau-ed free from the baker, toasted at 10:00 p.m. on a cold night in Nara, buttered and covered with sugar.

  4. Matt Evans on January 10, 2007 at 11:38 am

    The baguette-style bread in Spain is phenomenal, and a staple at almost every meal. Each week as I took a piece during the sacrament, I’d remember that my days in Spain were numbered. At some point in the future the sacrament would again be from sliced bread.

    The missionary favorites were a potato omelet (tortilla de patata), paella and lentejas with salchichon or jamon serrano (sausage or smoked ham), but most often we were served pasta with tomatoe paste, frequently with sliced egg or hot dog on top. The locally-grown oranges and peaches in southern Spain were the best I’ve ever had.

    Overall the food was rather mediocre, but thinking about it brings memories of the wonderful people who prepared it.

  5. Gordon Smith on January 10, 2007 at 12:12 pm

    Ronan, You are so much younger than I. I was there from 1982-84. I served in Linz (four months) and Wien I (12 months). No, I did not leave my mission early. I was part of that elite group that was called for only 18 months. I am jealous that you are there now. (The missionaries still call it Herbs?!)

  6. Kevin Barney on January 10, 2007 at 12:23 pm

    I’m afraid I went to Colorado, so nothing too exotic for me. The one thing I learned to make as a missionary was ramen noodles over shredded cheese with a half-packet of spices. We called it “Missionary Special” and I later often fed it to my kids when I had to cook something for them.

    And I remember one missionary who was in the habit of warming a tortilla over the stove’s flame, just holding it in his hand, melting a little butter on it and eathing it that way.

  7. Peter on January 10, 2007 at 12:25 pm

    In Linz beginnt’s!

    I don’t know about a Gasthaus Schmidt in the 8th district, but Schnitzelwirt in the 7th is called Herbs by the missionaries and has been since at least ’96-’98 (psst–Ronan was my AP. PM me for the inside scoop on his leadership abilities :). Maybe the actual restaurant moved and changed names, but the Herbs tradition lives on.

    As to the food, I’m all about Gulasch and Semmelknödel. And Gordon, if you liked the yogurt then, come back and try Billa’s house brand of “bio” yogurt, Ja! Natürlich. Very drinkable and better, in my opinion, than any other on the shelf.

  8. njensen on January 10, 2007 at 12:28 pm

    Having served in one of the commonwealth countries (Canada) I never knew growing up in the States the insane degree that sugar and confection are baked and bought in British culture. I can remember during Christmas on the mission, we would get huge tupperwares, normally used for large tossed salads, filled to the brim with butter tarts, mince tarts and every other sweet filling you can put into a tiny tart.

  9. General Nonsense on January 10, 2007 at 12:36 pm

    Serving in Los Angeles introduced me to a lot of authentic Mexican food. The staple, of course, being tortillas and rice with every meal — even spaghetti.

    Soon enough we started tortillas/rice at home but decided that rice-a roni tasted better than plain rice. Then we found that we could save time and energy by using tortilla chips instead of tortillas.

    Thus we disgustingly americanized a heartwarming traditional Mexican meal. A couple of dumb young missionaries using some generic version of tostitos to scoop some generic version of rice-a-roni out of a bowl and then calling it dinner. So pathetic. :)

  10. Rusty on January 10, 2007 at 12:53 pm

    In Guatemala it was all about the black beans and eggs (with handmade corn tortillas), breakfast and dinner, every day for two years. And I loved it. Sometimes we’d get some fried or boiled plantains, sausage, fruit (the best I’ve ever had), corn flakes in hot milk, or weird oatmeal for breakfast, but it always came with beans.

    Lunches (the biggest meal) was usually some kind of grisly chicken (on the bone) with rice or some nasty salad. I was never a fan of lunches there. Jugo de jocote (juice made from the fruit of a cashew) is perhaps the most disgusting thing I’ve ever consumed (or a close second to cow stomach). Good times.

  11. Russell Arben Fox on January 10, 2007 at 12:55 pm

    “And I remember one missionary who was in the habit of warming a tortilla over the stove’s flame, just holding it in his hand, melting a little butter on it and eathing it that way.”

    Kevin, sometimes my craving for toast in Korea became so great that I would do it the real old-fashioned way, and hold a piece of bread on a wire over the gas flame from our apartment’s stove. On more than one occasion, I set the bread on fire. One Korean companion thought it was so hilarious that he wanted a picture of this crazy missionary, destroying good bread.

  12. queuno on January 10, 2007 at 1:28 pm

    Bah, you haven’t lived until you’ve had “Milcao” in Chile (I’ve never seen it spelled, and I know that “milcao” is not a Spanish/Castillian spelling):

    Pork rinds, fried
    Wrapped in a masa of potatoes and lard
    Then deep-fried

    Serve warm, usually without utensils.

    Wash that down with a “Mantecol” candy bar (manteca = lard), which tasted like a sugary, buttery candy bar.

    When you wanted to eat healthy, you’d pick plums from a tree and eat them while walking (if you lived in the smaller towns).

  13. DHofmann on January 10, 2007 at 1:29 pm

    We used to enjoy okonomiyaki, a pancake of cabbage and other vegetables, some kind of meat and occasionally some yakisoba, cooked and then smothered liberally with Kewpie mayonnaise and Bulldog sauce. Now, I have to wait for an excuse to travel to San Francisco’s to get my fix at Izumiya in Japantown. Mmm! Brings back memories.

  14. capt jack on January 10, 2007 at 1:48 pm

    Queuno:

    I asked my Chilean wife what ‘milcaos’ were, and she’d never heard of them. Thank goodness for Wikipedia–it seems they are limited to southern Chile.

    http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milcao

  15. Starfoxy on January 10, 2007 at 1:49 pm

    “Do you have anything besides Mexican food?”

  16. Gilgamesh on January 10, 2007 at 1:51 pm

    Ah the wonders of Italy.

    Breakfast was hot chocolate and “sand cookies” – these were crumbly hard cookies that saoked up the chocolate. Other days we would go to the local paneficio and buy warm bread either plain or smeared with Nutella.

    Lunch was the big meal – usually a Pasta with some form of tomato sauce, with either sausage, ground beef or pancetta. We took two hours for lunch so we took time to cook. When we were out, lunch tended to be a panino with prosciuto or copa piccante, tomato and mozzarella. Aranciata was the drink of choice.

    Then dinner was after 9:00pm – since we took a long lunch, we took no dinner time. For me it was potatos fried in olive oil with rosemary. Or maybe a quick sandwich made with focaccia.

  17. Bonjo on January 10, 2007 at 1:59 pm

    Gilgamesh: Where/when did you serve in Italy?

  18. Bonjo on January 10, 2007 at 2:02 pm

    BTW, in Catania we called them dirt cookies. Cheap, flavorless cookies, put in a bowl with Nesquick and milk. Yummylicious.

  19. queuno on January 10, 2007 at 2:10 pm

    Captain Jack – That’s exactly right — Southern Chile (as opposed to Northern Chile, Santiago, or south-central). When I was serving in Patagonia, I ate it.

    [I need to stop saying "Chile", since it's just too confusing.]

  20. Anna on January 10, 2007 at 2:13 pm

    When I lived in Vienna (as a student for a few months, not as a missionary), I was famished all the time, mostly because I was too insanely frugal to feed myself properly like a normal person. On a typical day I ate muesli with yogurt for breakfast, a sandwich and an apple for lunch, and for dinner something completely pathetic, like a plate of plain rice.

    Perhaps because of my general state of starvation, the rare occasions when I did eat something with more substance or flavor stand out with particular intensity. I have fond memories of Topfenstrudel, ice cream at Zanoni, kebabs at the Naschmarkt, Käsekrainer (cheese sausage), and Faschingskrapfen (apricot jelly doughnuts common before Lent). And I still fantasize about this amazing dessert I ate once at a Heuriger out in Hietzing; it might have been loaded with rum, but I pretended not to notice.

  21. Ronan on January 10, 2007 at 2:27 pm

    Anna,
    You have just reminded me: best “Austrian” food, bar none: KEBABS! Oh, Doner Kebab, how I love you.

  22. Gordon Smith on January 10, 2007 at 2:40 pm

    Peter, Now I am wondering whether I got the Bezirk wrong. Now that you mention the 7th, I am thinking that is the right one. Anyway, it was definitely called Gasthaus Schmidt at the time, but perhaps Schnitzelwirt was another name on the sign? Or a new name? Any other Vienna missionaries out there who can help on this one?

  23. Kevin Barney on January 10, 2007 at 2:41 pm

    Wait, Ronan was an AP? Are you serious? I think I just lost my testimony.

  24. Peter on January 10, 2007 at 2:44 pm

    Ronan,

    If that’s the way you feel about Döner, then get thee hence to the Kent restaurant at Brunnengasse 67 1150 Wien. Neither you, your pocketbook nor your guests will regret it.

  25. Peter on January 10, 2007 at 2:49 pm

    Gordon,

    the name (and location) could very well have changed since the early 80s, but the one I know as Herb’s is “in” (sorry, can’t help the Germanism) the Neubaugasse. They still serve big, cheap and pretty good variations on the theme of schnitzel.

    Kevin,

    I can neither confirm nor deny anything Ronan hasn’t made public. What I can say, however, is that I only had good, squared away APs.

  26. Cameron on January 10, 2007 at 2:56 pm

    Who said Doner Kebab? Oh, yeah. I served in southern Spain and there were a plethora of Doner Kebab kiosks. Since none of us ever had any money, it was always a treat to find a Doner Kebab place where you could get one for 3 euros or less (they did exist). Many a district bonding event was had over lamb Kebabs. I miss a lot of other food, which, to me, was amazingly good. Someone mentioned the tortilla de patata and lentejas, which I remember fondly. I also miss pollo asado (roasted chicken, usually with a lot of wine), and a bizarre kind of chili that we made out of local ingredients then ate for a week afterword. I lived with a family of gypsys for a couple months and they threw some sort of bar-b-que every week: roasted lamb, fresh crab, the works. Good stuff. When I left for home, they even threw me a bar-b-que! I also miss the lemon soda, bio-fruta drinks, candy and chocolate pastry bars (called canas) that were available to buy on almost every street corner from little kiosks.

  27. CS Eric on January 10, 2007 at 3:07 pm

    Of all the food memories of my mission to Korea, one stands out head and shoulders over all the others. One cold December night, one of our investigators gave us apples that sprayed juice on every bite, and the juice poured down my chin. If that apple were the fruit in the Garden of Eden, I wouldn’t be surprised if Adam and Eve took a bushel with them when they left.

  28. Capt. Obsidian on January 10, 2007 at 3:09 pm

    My favorite bit of Portuguese cuisine was Bacalhau à Brás, but we only had that when eating with members. The grilled chicken was also excellent, and each restaurant had its own recipe for the marinade.

    When cooking on our own, breakfast was usually cold cereal, lunch was usually grilled chicken or turkey breasts with rice or spaghetti noodles and paozinhos (baguette-style rolls).

  29. Jim F. on January 10, 2007 at 3:30 pm

    CS Eric: Your memory reminded me of one of mine. One very cold night, my companion and I took a bus out into the country to visit a referral. They were farmers who raised goats, and they gave us hot goat’s milk with sugar. We were accustomed to getting the equivalent of baby formula with sugar as a treat when we visited people, but the goats milk was so much better–the only non-dried mild we had had in a couple of years because TB was so prevalent in Korean milk herds in those days. I thought I was drinking the milk and honey of Canaan.

    My memory of apples is that they almost always had a faint taste of kimchi, having been cut with the same knife used to cut the kimchi.

  30. Mark N. on January 10, 2007 at 3:41 pm

    In France, missionary dessert sometimes was a treat named “Lemon Rocket Fuel”, which consisted of a can of sweetened concentrated milk mixed with the juice of as many lemons as you could stand (which congealed the syrupy SCM rather nicely) in a graham cracker/melted butter crust. It looked like cheesecake but sure didn’t taste like one. It was only fair to warn missionaries who had never eaten one before just what they were getting into. After I got home from my mission, I used to spring it on people for a pot-luck dessert from time to time, although I’m starting to wonder now if the angels in heaven keeping track of my sins didn’t rack those pot-luck surprises up under some form of cruelty-based sin. Not quite as bad as torturing helpless animals, but maybe “like unto it”.

  31. Jordan on January 10, 2007 at 3:47 pm

    Ahhh… Doner. Loved them. I remember getting one my first week in Germany and letting the garlicky sauce just dribble down my chin.

    Some RMs once tried to open a Doner Kebab stand at BYU (you know, in that one stand just South of Campus that is always either empty or has some fly-by-night venture) when I was there once, but it did not seem to last that long. I bought one there once- they weren’t quite right…

    My last Doner was in 1999, when I was hanging out with John in Berlin en route to Lithuania. Now I want one…

    In Lithuania, John and I really liked the Cepelinai: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cepelinai .

  32. Eve on January 10, 2007 at 3:49 pm

    Gilgamesh, you bring back many delicious memories. Dirt cookies for breakfast (amazing how the Nutella helps wash those things down), gelato in the summer, chocolate bread at district meeting, panini with mozzarella and prosciuto, and focaccia at the end of a long day. (There are two kinds of missions in this world: those that involve weight loss, and those that involve weight gain….)

    Bonjo, when were you in Catania?

  33. Gordon Smith on January 10, 2007 at 3:56 pm

    That is it, Peter. I think Schnitzelwirt must be another name for it. I actually found a website that mentions the place by both names. Here. And Frommer’s has a review!

  34. Gilgamesh on January 10, 2007 at 4:20 pm

    Bonjo

    I served in the now extinct Padova mission from 90-92 under Presidente Conforte.

    Eve – I was too cheap to buy gelato except for once or twice in Forli’. Though we did buy chocolate wafers and put peanut butter (shipped from home) all over them for a peanut butter cup experience.

    Also another favorite – since sour candy – such as sweet-tarts – were not readily available, we would mix purplesaures rex kool-aid with a cup of sugar and eat it by the spoonful.

    Kool-aid was a hot commodity – something, I believe was shared with numerous missions around the world.

  35. Jim F. on January 10, 2007 at 4:31 pm

    Gilgamesh, you were in Italy for two years and only had gelato once or twice?! Surely you meant “except for once or twice a day.”

  36. Mark B. on January 10, 2007 at 4:33 pm

    I was about to join Kevin on the lost testimony bus, but then I remembered that I’ve known for years that staking my testimony on an AP was a very bad idea.

    I just hope that the former AP who’s thinking seriously about my daughter is different!

  37. Katie P. on January 10, 2007 at 4:44 pm

    I went to Detroit, so mission food for me is soul food. I learned to love collard greens, homemade macaroni and cheese, and homemade fried chicken.

    We were not often fed by members, though, and we usually skipped dinner. No idea what we ate for lunch. My favorite memory is of breakfast. The local Aldi’s sold small rolls of biscuit dough for 25¢ we would have one roll with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

  38. manaen on January 10, 2007 at 5:20 pm

    Argentina, early ’70s:

    * Unwritten mission rule prohibited setting foot in Buenos Aires for any reason without stopping at “Costa Azul.” I remember seeing a sea of white shirts at midnight as I passed through on a transfer.

    * “La Estancia’s” incredible steaks in Rosario

    * “Charlot,” amazing ice cream rolled in cake with chocolate sauce poured over it. Also, any of the house-front ice-cream shops.

    * EMPANADAS ! — not authentic without an olive tucked inside

    * and, of course, BEEF. wonderful, grilled, savory BEEF. (Argentine BBQ tip: place glowing coals under grill in a circle larger than cooking meat — the drippings won’t spatter back into your dinner)

  39. Rose Green on January 10, 2007 at 5:53 pm

    I was in Chile, too (Vina del Mar). Never had milcao. We had a lot of stews and a lot of tomatoes. Also empanadas, of course. Things I ate for the first (or only?) time in Chile:

    manjar (carmellized sweetened condensed milk) and dulce de membrillo (quince jam)
    that chicory root drink by Nestle (Ecco,Caro, or whatever they name it in your country) and camomile and boldo teas
    cow stomach
    lucuma (Pouteria lucuma), a fruit that tastes like butterscotch and cherimoya (another fruit)
    mote con huesillo, where you pour 7UP over a dried, reconstituted peach, and also added boiled wheat. Very odd.
    flan
    Chilean sopaipillas, most often served when raining. In Chile they are flat, deep-fried wheat dough things, drenched in chancaca, sort of a brown sugar syrup with grated orange peel and cinnamon.

  40. Hans on January 10, 2007 at 5:59 pm

    Norway: late 1960s/early 1970s

    The restaurant at the Salvation Army (Frelsesarmeen) in Oslo. 7 kroner (about $1 American) got you two giant kjoettboeller (meatballs the size of baseballs), gravy, smashed green peas, and bread. 1 krone more got you a piece of Napoleonskake (Napoleon pastry).

    Sunday dinner at the basement restaurant at the Viking Hotel (now gone)across from the Oslo East Train Station. T-bone steak with french fries and Bernaise sauce. 11 kroner (about $1.60).

    Den Runde Toenne (now gone) in Oslo. Best pork chops in the city for a buck.

    Ruth’s Cafe in Bergen. Reindeer burgers for 10 kroner.

    The Railroad Station in Bergen: whale stew. Quite tasty.

    The rest of the time: lots of fish (herring, cod, halibut, flounder, sole)

  41. spencer on January 10, 2007 at 7:11 pm

    I’ve got to add mine since I’ve seen no mention of cooking done by maids.

    Dominican Republic, Santo Domingo West 1994-1996.

    I liked mangu (boiled and mashed green plantain banana) with egg or salami (sometimes both) for breakfast. Lunch was the bandera (most of the time) – chicken, beans, and rice. Each maid had their own specialties, so you had to find out what they cooked well.

    For dinner we were on our own. Frequently it was two pieces of bread and a coke. If you lived in an area with a good chimi stand – and had a strong stomach or didn’t mind the runs – you could get one for 15-20 pesos ($1.00-1.50 – I think my memory fails me on the exact price). Chimis are like hamburgers served with on a bun with shredded lettuce, but the patty stayed red when cooked. They were also cheaper than a beef patty would have been. Some missionaries figured they were goat meat (chivo in Dominican), but got meat was more expensive than beef. So the exact source of the meat is perhaps best left a mystery.

  42. jose on January 10, 2007 at 7:39 pm

    In high school in California, the Mexican kids were eating salted prunes in class one day and they were kind enough to let me try one. Well, at least they smiled, nodded their heads, and said something in spanish–”gringo” was all I understood–as they handed me one. Whew. I had never ran out of class so fast as I did that morn to spit it out. I remember it didn’t taste much like a prune or benign salt.

  43. Capt. Obsidian on January 10, 2007 at 8:05 pm

    Spencer (#41),
    Your story reminds me of the Krusty’s Ribwich episode of the Simpsons (titled “I’m Spelling as Fast as I Can”).

    Krusty: Listen, about the Ribwich. We won’t be making them anymore. The animal we made them from is now extinct.
    Homer: The pig?
    Otto: The cow?
    Krusty: You’re way off. Think smaller…think more legs.

  44. Julie M. Smith on January 10, 2007 at 9:17 pm

    DHoffman,

    I’ve been hearing about okonomiyaki for the 10+ years of my marriage. After stumbling upon a bottle of okonomiyaki sauce at an Asian grocery store (where, oddly, it was in the foreign foods aisle), I tried the recipe on the back. My husband pronounced it authentic. Even my 8yo ate it. (I used a bag of cole slaw mix instead of cabbage and other veggies, so it was very easy to make.)

  45. Left Field on January 10, 2007 at 9:49 pm

    I encountered more than one missionary who put–I can barely type it without puking–peanut butter on pancakes. Topped with maple syrup. No doubt it’s a major reason I haven’t consumed peanut butter on purpose since early in the Reagan administration.

  46. gst on January 10, 2007 at 10:00 pm

    CPT Obsidian, could you please email me at gst at byu.edu? I’d like to sharply reprove you in private. Not really. I actually have a geology question.

  47. queuno on January 10, 2007 at 10:28 pm

    I should add another Southern Chilean delicacy – torta de hoja. Basically a multilayered sheet cake consisting of very thin leaves with jelly and manjar (carmelized condensed milk) interspersed.

    You hang out with enough Germans and you eat some interesting food.

  48. queuno on January 10, 2007 at 10:37 pm

    And you can’t forget mate tea in Chile or Argentina (we put caramels and orange rinds in the mate cup).

  49. queuno on January 10, 2007 at 10:56 pm

    A family member who served in Russia liked buying Parmalat Blood Orange Juice. And when we visited, I liked the borscht and rassolnyk.

  50. Sue on January 10, 2007 at 11:34 pm

    My husband ate rice every single day that he was in Ecuador and hasn’t touched it once since he landed back in the states 11 years ago…

  51. Gilgamesh on January 10, 2007 at 11:47 pm

    Jim F.

    I honestly have to say maybe three or four times. The problem was each time I would buy Gelato – I would go abck for more and more and more – so when I say three or four times – it does not mean three or four cones – maybe 16-20 cones.

  52. Bookslinger on January 11, 2007 at 12:23 am

    Sue, I was in Ecuador (Guayaquil, mid 80′s) and I still love Arroz con Menestra, though now I usually just have boiled lentils and rice without actually making it into menestra.

  53. Thomas Parkin on January 11, 2007 at 4:08 am

    I never served a mission, but during the years when I might have been serving a mission I came and went round about, and I put down a lot of rootbeer freezes (not floats, not shakes), 3-egg omlettes, Taco Bell bean burritos (long before the early 90s when Taco Bell switched green sauces, never to switch back, dang them to heck!), red vines, nachos (cheese steamed, not microwaved), apple pie (could you melt a little cheddar on that please) ala mode, the Bob’s Big Boy double decker cheeseburger with the finely shredded lettuce and the thousand island dressing, thousands and thousands, maybe millions, of gallons of Dr. Pepper, scrambled egg sandwiches, I knew a really good Chinese buffet (the last one I ever knew). Right at about age 19 I ate a filet in Chicago that was so big the steer must have shook the earth like a Brontosaurus. The day Dairy Queen stopped hand-dipping their Dilly Bars was a black one, for me.

    Ah, bad for me food! If the celestial kingdom can do better than this, dang!

    ~

  54. Rose Green on January 11, 2007 at 10:49 am

    Oh, yes, torta de hoja! And “kuchen” as a Germany-to-Chile tradition.

  55. tom on January 11, 2007 at 2:00 pm

    great food stories—the church must be true if we all lived to tell about the food we ate to stay alive .
    so in the sixties at byu one of my “fun” fhe treats was to go to the basment of the science building and see the tapeworms from the elders who had served in various places…..ah to be young and have cast iron insides

  56. Ruby T on January 11, 2007 at 4:27 pm

    The missionaries were still going to “Herbs” in 2000, when I was there. I remember some Elders in our district being excited because they’d gone to Herbs for lunch and met a whole table of men who’d served missions in Austria in the 80s, and they bought them their lunch.

    I don’t know why we called it Herbs. I personally tried to avoid the place (I didn’t want my 30 extra lbs turning into 40), but Elders who went there frequently took pictures with the owner and called him Herb. Is it possible that the owner or someone there is named Herb and likes to talk to the missionaries?

  57. Wes on January 12, 2007 at 2:59 pm

    Mark B, I must agree. Only 3 years ago I was living in Hachinohe, Japan (about as far North as you can go on the big island) right across from the local bread factory. About once a week we\’d go over and get a whole bag of \’pan no mimi\’ (bread heels) for about a dollar. A little time in the toaster oven, butter, and sugar make a treat that makes any long, cold, rainy day bearable.

  58. Yeechang Lee on January 12, 2007 at 7:48 pm

    Kevin Barney wrote:

    I’m afraid I went to Colorado, so nothing too exotic for me. The one thing I learned to make as a missionary was ramen noodles over shredded cheese with a half-packet of spices.

    I’m in the same boat as Kevin. Serving in Nevada meant meals with member families five or six nights a week. The great culinary discovery for me was Taco Bell, which I’d eaten at a few times pre-mission but really fell in love with during those two years. Returning home to NYC (where it’s not unknown for apartment dwellers to go ten years without opening their ovens) I was worried about how to get my fix, as Taco Bells were (and still are) very rare there. Lo and behold, the fall I began at Columbia the university opened a new food court, complete with a Taco Bell. Bliss! Now, living as a single guy in downtown San Francisco working in investment banking, that means that I *still* eat more or less exactly the kinds of foods I ate as a missionary outside the member meals.

    My mother never bothered to teach her four sons how to cook because, she figured, we’d learn on our missions. Unfortunately for her, in addition to me the next oldest went to Idaho Boise and the one after that went to California Oakland, and each had member dinners as often as I did. Only the youngest, who served in Korea Seoul West, now has the kinds of food remininsces others tell here.

  59. random me on January 13, 2007 at 6:47 pm

    ah, purplesaurus rex kool-aid. why did they ever stop making that?! mixing grape and lemonade just isn’t the same.

    “fat sandwiches:” mayo, cheese, and bacon on bread. lunchmeat was always gone.

    something similar to the “moulding surprise,” made up based on what was left in the fridge: scrambled eggs, cheese, sour cream… can’t remember what else. that’s the basic recipe, though.

    those of you who lived/live in los angeles, give me some names of good mexican restaurants. we’re from minutes away from the border and have yet to find anything really great in la, ironically. whenever we ask around, people say to just wait for a trip to san diego. sure beats the mexican food we found in virginia or hawai’i, though! in hawai’i, i had to explain how to make a carne asada quesadilla and then they still refused, not understanding that they just needed to take the carne from their burritos and stick it in the quesadilla.

  60. myka on January 14, 2007 at 1:14 am

    el cholo in los angeles, near pico and western, actually there are a few of them. it\’s delicious!

  61. Clair on January 14, 2007 at 2:09 am

    Gulf States, 1968-70. Missionary stew. Not made of missionaries, but made by missionaries. The ingredients aren’t important (chicken hearts were cheap), but the preservation method was key. We boiled it on the stove, ate some for lunch, covered it, boiled it for supper, ate some more, covered it, and so on for several days. It was a big pot and it stayed on the stove. No refrigeration, but we figured the boiling killed most bad stuff. My mother and now my wife both still chew me out for trying to kill myself.

    Does anyone know the biology of that process?

  62. Austin F. on January 14, 2007 at 11:47 pm

    We had some member unload some food storage on us (and good thing too, I had to buy new shoes that month and was completely broke), which consisted of mostly canned Chili and mac and cheese. After a few days of eating them separately, I decided to combine the two. It wasn’t the best tasting food I’d ever had, but it was certainly filling.

    Anyone who goes to Portland, OR needs to go to Mike’s Drive-In in Sellwood or Oregon City…they have a hamburger with a fried egg on it that is artery-clogging, but delicious. Unfortuately, my wife won’t let me fry up some eggs when we grill burgers….pity, that!

  63. manaen on January 15, 2007 at 11:29 am

    59 those of you who lived/live in los angeles, give me some names of good mexican restaurants

    * for authentic, old-time-LA, try Margarita’s ~ east side of Crenshaw at 50th. I’ve been eating there since my grandparents took me in the ’50s — and the decor remains unchanged since then.

    * In the South Bay, El Tarasco or Alberto’s, Jr. are good, inexpensive family fare.