The Mormon Diaries, Part Five: Beer And Boozing In Provo, Utah

Mormons Napoleon Dynamite

The Mormon bartender is scared.

Picture the hang-dog faced cast of Napoleon Dynamite. Try to remember the frumpier extras in the back. Now try to imagine the pudgier ones who didn’t make final cut. And you have the scared Mormon bartender.

He doesn’t have the cast’s awkward, goofy charm. He has a mullet, a gift for awkward silences, a name tag that reads Tyler. So he wasn’t in Napoleon Dynamite. He is the scared Mormon bartender at Outback Steakhouse.

Tyler doesn’t know much about alcohol. But he doesn’t have the social grace for reception up front, either. So management sticks him in the back. At the bar. With less lighting and, this being Provo, Utah, with few to no drinking customers.

Except tonight. Tonight I am hosting a senior sales manager from France.

And the Mormon bartender is scared.

* * * * *

My unofficial job title is Designated Drinker.

Every time a universally-branded client or regionally-confused co-worker flies in, I get the call. It’s not that I’m particularly interesting or charismatic. It’s that I win by default. I’m a non-Mormon stationed in the backwater Mormon outpost of a global tech titan. And somebody has to drink with the out-of-towners.

The Mormon bosses call it “networking”. In theory, I regale the guest with tales of my employer’s prestige, world-class support ecosystem and show them that there is more than meets the eye in Utah.

Mormons Root Beer

In practice, we drink, banter about LeBron James’ legacy, somehow segue-way to the seven-figure deal on the table, s/he stumbles back to the Marriott, and we trade covert but knowing hung-over grimaces at the 9 AM sales meeting the next morning.

I take them to the most exquisite of culinary choices in Provo, Utah: Outback Steakhouse or P.F. Changs. The blooming onion or Kung Pao chicken combo—the pantheon of Provo, Utah fine-dining.

Tonight’s “networking” is with Tafik, a curious senior sales manager of Algerian descent from the Paris office.

“What is ze gourmet Mormon dinner?” he asks. Bold. Inspired. Braced for an adventure in Mormon culture and a buzz.

And I’m the buzz kill. “It’s Manti Te’o’s girlfriend.”


“It’s Manti Te’o’s girlfriend. It doesn’t exist. We’re going to Outback Steakhouse.”

Mormons Cookies

* * * * *

The shortest books ever written: The Amish Phone Book. French Hospitality. Mike Tyson’s Husband Tips. Sylvester Stallone’s Dramatic Acting Tips. The Wisdom Of Sarah Palin. Mormon Gourmet Cuisine.

Utah dining serves up the weakest of culinary leagues. In 18 months of empirical study of the Mormons in their natural habitat, I have observed that the Mormon diet is akin to that of a 14-year-old white American boy.

Lunches and dinners of hot dogs or chicken sandwiches. Desserts of Jell-o, chocolate chip cookies, Skittles, or Farr’s Yogurt. Or, even better, chocolate chip cookies and Skittles on Farr’s Yogurt. All washed down by chocolate milk. Always chocolate milk.

Mormon food would, perhaps, best be described as mass produced and durable. Adjectives ideal, perhaps, for Utah’s ubiquitous Dodge Ram 150, but not for a state’s local dishes. Mormon food is built for fuel not taste, dating back to the faith’s pioneers.


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